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PREFACE. 


HERE  is  no  more  fascinating  exercise  for  the  mind  or  imag- 
__  ination  than  to  contemplate  the  career  of  a  gifted  man  or 
woman;  and  the  man  who  illustrates  and  adorns  the  profession,  to 
which  choice  or  chance  has  assigned,  should  ever  be  regarded  as 
a  fit  item  for  history — whatever  that  lot  might  have  been.  But 
more  especially  is  this  the  experience  with  the  man,  who,  from 
any  circumstances  or  powers  of  mind,  bursts  the  fetters  of  a  lowly 
fortune  or  position,  and,  rising  superior  to  common  fate,  makes 
for  himself  a  path  to  higher  destiny  and  forms  a  niche  in  its  tem 
ple  which,  in  af tertime,  an  impartial  world  will  deem  him  worthy 
to  occupy. 

"  Honor  and  fame  from  no  condition  rise 
Act  well  your  part — therein  the  honor  lies." 

The  history  of  Dan  Rice  is  replete  with  startling  incident,  in 
structive  fact,  and  dramatic  situations;  whilst  the  trend  of 
thought  and  action  which  that  history  develops,  exhibits  a 
mind,  heart,  and  purpose,  combined  with  the  rarest  elements. 
He  has  lived  a  varied,  adventurous  life,  has  travelled  extensively, 
and  mingled  with  all  sorts  and  conditions  of  men,  the  noble- 
minded  and  the  base.  He  has  been  a  keen  observer,  a  profound 
student  of  mankind,  and  in  his  own  person  has  been  subjected 
to  almost  every  sort  of  trial,  domestic  or  otherwise,  bitter  ex 
periences  which  have  served  to  expand  and  strengthen  these 
characteristics  which  have  proved  to  be  the  mainspring  of  his 
triumphs  in  after  life. 

Imbued  with  a  well-nigh  insatiable  love  of  nature,  of  a  no 
madic  tendency,  with  just  a  trifling  tinge  of  the  Bohemian  in  his 
temperament — little  wonder  that  at  an  early  age  he  left  the  roof 
of  his  childhood  and  became  a  cosmopolite,  before  he  had  im 
bibed  scarcely  more  than  the  primary  rudiments  of  the  school 
room  or  formed  any  stable  habits  of  the  right,  for  at  that  early 
period — when  association  was  most  likely  to  give  bias  to  his 
character — he  was  cast  upon  the  cold  and  unsympathetic  ocean  of 
life — no  beacon  light  to  direct  his  pathway — the  child  of  circum 
stance — the  nursling  of  fate. 

Too  much  credit  cannot  be  awarded  to  one  who  commenced 
his  career  under  such  untoward  conditions  and  conflicting  cir- 


103 


IV  PKEFACE 

cumstances,  and  yet  achieve  so  proud  a  foothold  among  his 
fellows. 

It  is  an  incentive  to  the  ambitious — a  spur  to  the  self-reliant 
but  lowly  circumstanced  in  life,  exemplifying  as  it  does,  with 
such  a  wealth  of  eloquent  and  effective  incident  and  adventure, 
disheartening  trials  and  temptations,  incidental  to  and  insep 
arable  from  the  isolated  and  self-sought  career  which  the  brave- 
hearted  but  friendless  lad  mapped  out  for  himself,  how  in  after 
years  the  sturdy  stripling,  having  developed  his  native  gifts  and 
utilized  the  knowledge  acquired  in  the  school  of  experience,  for 
ever  removed,  through  the  influence  of  a  rugged  honesty  of  pur 
pose  and  unswerving  principle  in  execution,  the  traditional  odium 
from  a  peculiar  class,  and  thus  conferred  a  benefit  upon  all  who 
may  become  identified  with  a  profession  of  which  he  was  so  prom 
inent — and  it  may  be  added,  the  most  illustrious — member. 

He  was  yet  to  know  the  inebriating  sweetness  of  a  popular 
applause,  to  witness  the  bitter  revolutions  consequent  upon  that 
profession's  subsequent  lapse  from  popular  favor  to  well-merited 
censure.  An  active,  athletic  lad  of  quick  perception  and  ready 
tact,  practically  friendless  and  homeless,  young  Dan  Rice,  how 
ever,  was  not  long  in  attracting  the  attention  of  all  with  whom  he 
came  in  contact.  The  very  novelty  of  such  a  juvenile,  precocious 
cosmopolite  induced  the  inquiry,  "  Who  is  he?"  and  his  per 
tinacity  in  repelling  all  such  inquiries  gathered  around  him  an 
ever-increasing  curiosity  and  interest.  His  taste  for  and  love 
of  horses,  which  has  since  been  so  strongly  evinced,  led  him  to 
the  racecourse  and  to  every  place  where  horses  or  horsemen  were 
collected. 

A  certain  magnetism  of  manner,  inviting  amiability  and  hon 
est  ingenuousness,  which  in  a  more  mature  manhood  culminated 
in  an  almost  resistless  fascination,  attracted  toward  him  an  illus 
trious  circle  of  lifelong  friendships,  many  of  whom  have  acquired 
national  distinction,  and  it  is  significant  of  the  resistless  charms 
with  which  he  swayed  individuals,  and  vast  audiences,  that  those 
friends  of  his  early  youth  have  been  faithful  and  constant  to  the 
end.  No  public  man  can  boast  of  a  larger  or  more  conspicuous 
circle, 'including  as  the  list  does,  statesmen,  scholars,  scientists, 
men  of  world-wide  fame  in  the  armies  and  navies  of  every  nation, 
as  well  as  countless  thousands  who  have  acquired  fame  in  the 
more  humanizing  walks  of  life. 

When  he  finally  drifted  into  the  profession  wherein  he  ac 
quired  such  fame,  and  wherein  at  the  outset  he  distinguished 
himself  from  his  fellows  by  his  superior  activity,  and  athletic 
and  gymnastic  powers,  it  was  not  long  until  it  was  discovered 
that  his  native  wit,  acute  sense  of  the  ridiculous  and  humorous 
conception  could  be  most  profitably  utilized  in  motley  garb.  His 


PREFACE  V 

wit  was  Attic  and  spontaneous,  conceived  with  electric  instinct, 
and  thus  was  given  to  the  world  a  humorist  whose  supremacy 
was  at  once  recognized,  and  whose  fame  was  equal  with  the  most 
distinguished  members  of  the  more  assuming  histrionic  profes 
sions. 

It  was  thus  that  upon  the  very  threshold  of  his  career  he 
attained  celebrity  for  not  only  rare  genius,  but  for  a  refinement 
and  polish  of  address,  high-toned  sentiment,  and  sterling  worth; 
the  latter  quality  being  established  by  his  benevolent  and  chari 
table  actions.  Hence  he  obtained  easy  access  to  any  and  every 
avenue  of  social  life  in  which  he  desired  to  move,  and  became  the 
courted  guest  of  every  charmed  circle  in  which  intellectuality 
held  sway. 

In  the  course  of  his  eventful  career  opportunities  had  been 
presented  in  a  more  exalted  sphere,  and  he  has  been  importuned 
to  enter  the  arena  of  politics,  and  upon  more  than  one  occasion 
overtures  have  been  made  to  allow  himself  to  be  nominated  for 
Congress  and  State  Senate,  and  at  one  period  for  President,  in 
1808,  in  Xew  York,  where  his  oratorical  ability  and  brilliant 
originality  would  have  been  of  incalculable  service  to  the  party 
he  espoused.  But,  however  distasteful  the  profession  with  which 
he  was  connected,  he  shrank  from  the  harassing  turmoil,  agita 
tions,  and  antagonisms  of  political  strife,  and  preferred  to  reign 
supreme  in  the  more  remunerative,  if  less  exalted,  walk  of  life, 
which  in  later  years  he  invested  with  a  distinction  unknown  prior 
to  his  advent. 

A  waif  thrown  on  the  world  at  an  almost  childish  age,  yet 
struggling  with  the  inherent  ambition  of  his  nature  to  build  up 
a  name  and  position,  surrounded  by  influences  which  would  dis 
may  the  less  resolute,  and  combating  circumstances  which  were 
most  unfavorable  to  the  development  of  his  genius,  yet  with  the 
indomitable  spirit  of  a  hero,  in  whose  vocabulary  there  was  no 
such  word  as  fail,  he  succeeded  in  establishing  a  name  and  repu 
tation  which  will  live  after  these  memoirs  have  left  his  memory 
behind.  And  yet  his  name  will  live  forever  fragrant  with 
memories  of  his  many  charitable  and  beneficent  bequests,  which 
are  not  the  less  appreciated  because  unblazoned  and  without 
ostentation. 

His  rise  was  rapid,  meteoric;  from  his  school-boy  days  when 
he  succeeded  in  upsetting  the  gravity  of  the  learned  faculty  of 
Princeton  with  ludicrous  translations  and  burlesque  construc 
tions  of  the  ancient  classics,  making  game  of  august  professors 
in  grave  discussions  upon  disputed  points  in  ethics,  and  finally 
on  his  way  home,  with  a  "  flea  in  his  ear  "  and  his  expulsion  in 
his  pocket,  on  up  to  when,  still  a  mere  lad,  he  is  soon  after  found 
in  the  West,  eliciting  the  most  sapient  of  sayings  from  the  most 


VI  PREFACE 

erudite  of  pigs,  dancing  himself  into  the  good  graces  of  the  Dig 
gers  about  Galena,  111.,  as  a  veritable  Ethiopian — his  life  was  ka 
leidoscopic.  Now  we  find  him  running  the  gauntlet  of  the 
authorities  of  Davenport  and  Rock  Island  for  licenses  unpaid, 
disseminating  Mormon  doctrines,  with  an  especial  commissioji 
from  Joe  Smith  at  $50  per  month,  to  see  a  miracle,  to  which  Ma 
homet's  coffin  was  not  a  circumstance. 

Next  we  find  him  exposing  the  great  mesmerizer  De  Bonne- 
ville,  for  being  too  strong  a  competitor  of  his  learned  pig,  and 
the  next  day,  having  lured  away  his  subject,  lecturing  upon 
Phreno-mesmerism,  with  an  eclat  to  which  the  great  Magnetizer 
could  not  aspire.  Political  controversies,  temperance  lectures, 
herculean  labor,  comic  negro  songs,  and  still  more  comical 
speeches — with  itinerant  shows — leading  characters  in  the  Peri 
patetic  Thespian  Corps — everything  served  to  keep  the  ball  in 
motion,  until  about  three  years  after,  when  Dan  succeeded 
in  discovering  the  true  bent  of  his  genius  and  set  himself  to 
work  to  achieve  a  reputation. 

Indefatigable  study,  incessant  researches,  and  a  more  than 
usual  share  of  nature's  gifts,  caused  the  mountebank  who  made 
his  debut  as  a  clown  of  a  circus  on  the  Western  prairies,  three 
years  since,  to  wake  up  in  New  York  four  months  afterward 
with  a  fame  well-nigh  world-wide.  From  this  time  his  strides 
to  the  goal  of  his  ambition  were  rapid.  Taken  by  the  hand  in 
New  York,  Philadelphia,  and  Baltimore  by  many  who  detected 
the  latent  spark  of  genius,  there  was  soon  presented  the  singular 
spectacle  of  a  fool  in  motley  dress  calling  out  audiences  who  had 
never  before  deigned  to  cater  to  anything  less  artistic  than  an 
Italian  opera  troupe  or  a  five-act  tragedy.  His  rise  was  meteor- 
like,  bringing  to  bear  as  he  did,  all  the  accessories  with  which  his 
varied  life  had  made  him  familiar. 

Truly  his  career  furnishes  an  extraordinary  example  of  what 
can  be  accomplished  by  tact,  combined  with  indomitable  per 
severance  and  energy.  In  the  course  of  his  life  he  made  and 
spent  several  fortunes,  rendered  his  name  "as  familiar  as  a 
household  word  "  in  every  part  of  the  United  States,  and  created 
a  prestige  for  the  establishment  which  he  originated,  and  which 
was  exceeded  in  popularity  only  by  the  striking  originality  of 
Colonel  Rice  himself.  As  the  proprietor  of  the  "  One-Horse 
Show/'  struggling  against  the  opposition  of  capital,  harassed  and 
annoyed  bv  persecutions,  he  enlisted  the  sympathy  of  the  public 
to  a  wonderful  degree,  and  from  that  equestrian  establishment 
in  which  the  equine  department  was  represented  by  and  consoli 
dated  in  one  solitary  horse,  had  grown  the  monster  exhibition 
which  made  him  world  famous.  As  a  trainer  of  animals,  he  stood 
without  a  rival.  He  was  the  only  man  who  ever  succeeded  in 


PREFACE  Vll 

subduing  the  rhinoceros.  Those  who  have  witnessed  the  ex 
traordinary  feats  of  the  horses,  Excelsior  and  Excelsior,  Jr.,  the 
former  of  which  was  the  identical  horse  which  constituted  the 
"  One-Horse  Show/'  cannot  have  failed  to  appreciate  his  skill  as 
a  horseman.  Still,  his  great  reputation  has  been  gained  as  a 
humorist,  a  cognomen  which  he  introduced  in  contradistinction 
to  that  of  the  ordinary  circus  clown,  and  in  which  capacity  he  was 
acknowledged  to  stand  without  an  equal.  His  originality,  his 
ready  wit,  and  his  entire  good  sense,  combined  to  render  his 
delineation  of  that  role  acceptable  to  every  class  of  the  com 
munity. 

He  had  ever  a  way  of  doing  everything  and  saying  everything 
that  may  be  considered  idiosyncratic  and  might  be  called  "  Dan 
Rice-ish."  Ordinary  subjects  received  new  interest  from  the 
garb  with  which  he  clothed  them.  No  person  probably  had  ever 
become  a  more  universal  favorite. 

His  great  personal  popularity,  and  the  moral  force  he  carried 
with  him,  as  the  embodiment  of  everything  respectable  in  the 
circle,  were  the  secret  of  his  signal  triumphs  throughout  two 
continents. 

In  this  biographical  age,  when  almost  every  ambitious  char 
acter  imagines  that  the  public  has  an  interest  in  his  antecedents, 
Lord  Byron's  celebrated  quotation  is  brought  to  mind: 

"  'Tis  pleasant  to  see  one's  name  in  print, 
A  book's  a  book,  tho'  there's  nothing  in't." 

It  was  not  so  in  bygone  days  when  only  the  memoirs  of  men 
or  women  were  published  whose  fame  and  remarkable  lives  were 
a  certain  guarantee  to  both  the  public  and  the  publisher.  To 
the  former,  that  the  perusal  would  well  repay  the  cost  and  time, 
and  to  the  latter  that  the  books  would  not  be  left  upon  his  hands 
and  eventually  sold  as  waste  paper.  In  presenting  in  this  vol 
ume,  the  life  of  Dan  Rice,  the  biographer  feels  that  she  is  about 
to  place  before  the  public  a  volume  of  an  entirely  different  de 
scription  to  the  dull  and  uninteresting  works  alluded  to.  It  will 
contain  a  series  of  adventures  and  incidents  alternating  from 
grave  to  gay;  descriptive  scenes  and  thrilling  events;  the  record  of 
half  a  century  of  a  remarkable  life,  in  the  course  of  which  the  sub 
ject  was  brought  into  contact  with  many  of  the  national  celebri 
ties  of  the  day.  It  will  abound  in  anecdotes,  humorous  and  other 
wise;  and  it  will  afford  a  clearer  view  of  the  inside  mysteries  of 
show  life  than  any  account  heretofore  published. 

As  a  journalist  also,  he  has  figured  successfully;  his  paper, 
"  The  Cosmopolite,"  of  Girard,  Pa.,  having  had,  and  still  con 
tinues  to  maintain,  a  wide  circulation  throughout  the  Lake 
States. 


Vlll  PREFACE 

In  short,  the  "  Memoirs  "  will  be  found  replete  with  such  a 
strange  and  varied  round  of  adventures,  as  to  supply  additional 
evidence  that  "  truth  is  stranger  than  fiction."  A  biographical 
sketch  of  Dan  Eice's  parentage  is  introduced,,  which  will  contain 
interesting  and  hitherto  unpublished  incidents  in  the  lives  of 
Aaron  Burr,  Madame  Jumel,  and  other  historical  personages  of 
a  bygone  age. 

In  closing  this  synoptic  analysis  of  Mr.  Eice's  professional 
career  that  is  so  full  of  phenomenal  development,  especial  pride 
is  taken  in  giving  to  the  world  the  best  that  can  be  produced 
from  the  gifted  pen  of  the  critic  and  the  established  customs 
that  sway  the  masses.  In  weighing  the  words  of  cultured  men 
we  are  brought  within  the  limit  of  their  understanding,  and  the 
exacting  tide  of  popular  approval,  or  otherwise,  is  the  inevitable 
result;  therefore,  the  character  delineated  by  an  accurate  esti 
mate  of  true  worth  and  actual  merit  shines  forth  with  bright 
effulgence  through  deeds  that  have  crowned  themselves  with 
more  than  ordinary  lustre  and  acknowledgment.  Without  a 
peer  in  his  particular  sphere  in  the  amusement  world,  he  still 
stands  as  a  monarch  whose  fame  is  untarnished  by  the  buffetings 
of  clannish  presumers,  and  whose  strength  has  been  tried  by  time 
and  its  progress.  His  fortress  has  been  the  hearts  of  the  people 
and  an  impenetrable  stronghold  he  found  in  their  unbiased 
opinions,  which  place  he  still  occupies  and  fondly  cherishes  with 
a  name  unscarred  by  design  and  its  adjuncts.  The  indescribable 
traits  inherent  in  his  character  in  earlier  life  can  be  traced 
through  all  the  later  efforts  of  his  maturer  years;  and  in  those 
characteristics  probably  lie  the  secret  of  the  brilliant  successes 
that  have  pronounced  him  the  Prince  of  Jesters  and  the  pride  of 
the  social  circle  in  which  he  moved.  With  a  strength  of  resolve 
to  bravely  meet  every  apparent  duty  pointed  out  by  the  finger  of 
fate,  he  promptly  responded  with  his  versatile  talent  and  em 
phasized  it  by  unselfish  contributions  in  a  monetary  way,  as  has 
been  demonstrated  by  innumerable  expressions  of  public  grati 
tude  that  repaid  him  a  thousand-fold.  Without  a  thought  of 
holding  malice,  this  impenetrable  character  has  calmed  the  rage 
of  his  enemies  and  offered  the  hand  of  good-fellowship  to  his 
fallen  foes  when  bitter  antagonism  waged  its  war  of  words  in  the 
press  and  circus  ring;  but,  through  all,  his  star  was  in  the  ascend 
ancy,  and  vindictive  accusations  were  buried  in  charity  by  this 
old-time  knight  of  the  circle.  Bright  oases  these  to  encounter 
in  the  arduous  toils  of  a  busy,  public  life  of  over  a  half  a  century, 
contending  with  every  phase  of  strife,  professional,  political,  and 
social.  The  world  is  critical  in  its  judgment  of  prominent  men 
whose  lives  are  open  to  inspection,  and  these  pages  invite  its  in 
tellectual  perusal;  but  it  is  also  humane  in  pronouncing  its  sen- 


PREFACE  IX 

tences,  which  cannot  but  give  to  its  retinue  of  subjects  the  un 
tarnished  name  of  the  Jester  Clown,  Dan  Rice. 

Dan  Rice,  the  world-renowned  jester,  is  no  longer  before  the 
public  as  the  life  and  soul  of  the  arena,  the  presiding  spirit  whose 
original  jests,  gibes,  and  witticisms  were  wont  to  keep  the  con 
gregated  thousands  in  a  roar,  but,  fortunately,  through  his  cour 
tesy,  the  author  of  this  work  has  had  the  privilege  of  inspecting 
a  pile  of  manuscripts  and  papers  sufficient  to  enable  her  to  pre 
sent  to  the  public  a  volume  of  the  great  jester's  most  pungent 
jokes,  comic  harangues,  caustic  hits  upon  men  and  manners, 
lectures,  anecdotes,  sketches  of  adventure,  original  songs  and 
poetical  effusions;  wise  and  witty,  serious,  satirical,  and  senti 
mental  sayings  of  the  sawdust  arena  of  other  days.  The  author 
has  been  induced  to  issue  this  work  at  the  earnest  request  of  a 
host  of  Col.  Dan  Rice's  friends  and  old  admirers;  at  the  same 
time  the  young  of  the  present  generation  will  be  enabled  to  com 
pare  the  genius  of  the  motley  representatives  of  the  past  with  the 
weak  and  degenerate  wearers  of  the  cap  and  bells  of  to-day.  Its 
perusal,  while  it  will  assuredly  excite  the  risibilities  of  the  most 
unimpressionable,  will  be  found  not  lacking  in  instructive  mat 
ter.  Xo  public  character  has  experienced  a  more  checkered  life, 
and  it  may  be  truly  said  that  no  one,  either  belonging  to  the 
legitimate  drama,  or  the  tented  circle,  has  acquired  the  widely- 
spread  fame  or  popularity  of  Colonel  Rice.  With  these  few 
prefatorial  remarks,  this  literary  venture  is  launched,  leaving  a 
discriminating  public  to  pass  upon  its  merits. 


Reminiscences    of    Dan     Rice 


CHAPTER  I. 

DAN  RICE'S  PARENTAGE  —  AN  EPISODE  OF  LOVE,  AND  AN 
ELOPEMENT  —  THE  COURSE  OF  TRUE  LOVE  NEVER  RUNS 
SMOOTH  —  BIRTH  OF  THE  HERO  AND  SEPARATION  OF  HIS 
PARENTS  —  A  LEAF  IN  THE  HISTORY  OF  AARON  BURR  AND 
MADAME  JUMEL  —  THE  MATCH-MAKER  —  MARRIAGE  AND 
DIVORCE  —  AN  ENGAGEMENT  BROKEN  THROUGH  A  BAD  SET 
OF  TEETH  —  A  GRATEFUL  AND  MUNIFICENT  BEQUEST. 


are  few  men  living  whose  lives  have  been  so  ad- 
__  venturous  or  characterized  by  what  may  be  termed  "  ups 
and  downs  "  of  life  as  the  hero  of  these  memoirs.  While  the 
placid  course  of  an  uneventful  life  may  be,  and  is,  the  lot  of 
many,  there  are  others  whose  careers  are  traced  by  a  series  of 
events,  many  of  which  would  serve  as  a  sensational  chapter  of  a 
novel,  while  some  may  be  criticised  as  imaginative  and  unreal. 

At  the  solicitation  of  many  of  the  personal  friends  of  Dan 
Rice,  the  biographer  has  been  induced  to  compile  for  publication 
the  reminiscences  of  a  period  of  his  existence,  dating  from  early 
boyhood,  through  the  teeming  years  which  have  since  intervened. 

To  give  the  reader  a  correct  insight  into  the  influences  which 
in  a  measure  controlled  his  after  life,  a  brief  re-view  of  his  par 
entage  and  the  events  preceding  his  birth  is  necessary,  and  it 
will  then  be  understood  that  the  name  of  Dan  Rice  is  merely  a 
patronymic  that  has  withstood  the  tests  of  intelligent  criticism. 
His  father,  Daniel  McLaren,  was  born  in  the  city  of  New  York, 
and  resided  in  Mulberry  Street,  which  was  at  that  time  one  of 
the  best  business  and  residential  sections  of  the  city.  His  mother 
was  Elizabeth  Crum,  the  daughter  of  Richard  Crum,  a  Methodist 
preacher,  who  was  born  in  Haverstraw,  N.  Y.,  in  the  year  1763. 
Mr  Crum  afterward,  in  early  manhood,  settled  in  Ocean  Town 
ship,  in  Monmouth  County,  N.  J.,  and,  being  married,  he  became 
the  father  of  a  numerous  progeny,  fourteen  of  whom  survived 
and  reached  maturity.  Our  hero's  mother  was  the  tenth  child, 


2  EEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

being  born  March  4,  1803,  and  as  she  was  evidently  the  favorite 
of  her  father,  more  than  usual  pains  were  taken  with  her  educa 
tion,  and,  contrary  to  the  usages  of  prevailing  customs  at  that 
period,  she  was  indulged,  perhaps  too  much  so,  to  participate  in 
the  enjoyment  of  many  social  privileges  that  belonged  to  older 
maidens. 

It  was  thus  at  the  age  of  eighteen,  she  was  allowed  to  attend 
several  "merry-makings"  and  dances  held  at  Long  Branch,  a 
short  distance  from  the  paternal  home,  and  it  was  on  one  of  these 
occasions  that  she  met  young  Daniel  McLaren. 

It  was  the  old,  old  story  of  love  at  first  sight,  and  the  friend 
ship  thus  formed  became  essential  to  the  happiness  of  both,  for 
it  early  terminated  in  an  elopement  to  New  York.  Young  Mc 
Laren,  being  prompted  by  entirely  pure  motives,  would  not  allow 
a  shadow  of  a  reflection  to  rest  upon  the  fair  name  of  the  maiden 
of  his  choice,  so  on  the  return  journey  the  couple  stopped  at 
Heghtstown  in  New  Jersey,  where  they  were  married  by  a  Jus 
tice  of  the  Peace.  This  happened  in  the  year  1821,  and  the 
young  bride  was  taken  to  her  husband's  home  on  Mulberry  Street, 
where,  on  the  25th  of  January,  in  the  year  1823,  she  gave 
birth  to  the  subject  of  these  memoirs.  Daniel  McLaren,  being 
the  only  son,  was  a  partner  with  his  father  in  the  grocery  business, 
but,  meanwhile,  following  the  inclinations  of  his  talent,  he  was 
studying  law  under  the  famous  Aaron  Burr,  of  whom  he  became 
an  ardent  admirer.  During  all  this  time  there  had  been  a 
vigilant  search  by  Mr.  Crum,  to  locate  the  runaway  bride,  which 
finally  proved  successful,  when  the  indignant  father  immediately 
instituted  proceedings  against  McLaren,  and  by  means  of  a  writ 
issued  by  the  court,  she  was  forcibly  taken  from  her  husband 
and  returned  to  her  old  home  at  the  farm.  The  marriage  was 
declared  null  and  void,  and  a  suit  was  instituted  against  our 
hero's  father  for  seduction.  Damages  to  the  amount  of  $1,000 
were  awarded,  which  sum,  being  paid,  was  transferred  to  the 
child's  mother  to  be  held  in  trust  for  the  boy.  Little  Dan  was 
subsequently  in  his  mother's  custody  taken  to  the  home  of  her 
father,  and,  although  the  grandfather  loved  the  child  for  his 
daughter's  sake,  his  misguided  judgment  never  forgave  Daniel 
McLaren,  and  he  would  not  allow  his  grandson  to  use  his  father's 
surname,  bestowing  upon  him  the  surname  Bice  which  belonged 
to  the  maternal  side.  Thus  all  intercourse  between  his  parents 
ceased.  It  was  an  impulsive  love  match,  a  rose-tinted  dream  that 
filled  two  young  lives  unfolding  to  the  experiences  of  this  world's 
cares,  and  a  rude  awakening  by  arbitrary  and  unnatural  condi 
tions,  that  created  a  sorrowful  conclusion. 

The  parting  was  final.  The  mother,  now  that  her  marriage 
had  been  pronounced  invalid,  impelled  only  by  a  filial  discern- 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  3 

merit  of  duty,  made  reconciliation  with  the  high-strung  McLaren 
impossible,  and  so  the  young  husband  lived  only  in  her  memory. 

It  has  been  previously  stated  that  little  Dan's  father  was 
equally  interested  with  Daniel  McLaren,  Sr.,  in  the  grocery 
business.  It  was  at  that  time  one  of  the  largest  establishments 
embraced  in  that  line  in  New  York,  and  its  patronage  was  com 
posed  of  many  of  the  select  families,  who  preferred  to  have  their 
articles  guaranteed,  a  fact  that  savors  of  probable  adulteration 
even  at  that  early  day.  Among  those  who  availed  themselves  of 
securing  the  best  standard  articles  at  the  McLaren  establishment 
was  the  historic  Aaron  Burr.  It  was  here  he  purchased  his  claret, 
imported  liquors,  tea,  etc.,  the  firm  being  widely  celebrated  for 
their  excellent  quality  of  the  latter  article,  the  senior  partner 
having  been,  in  conjunction  with  John  Jacob  Astor,  one  of  the 
earliest  importers  of  tea  in  the  United  States. 

Another  patron  of  the  establishment  was  the  famous  Madame 
Jumel,  whose  name  is  so  inseparably  connected  with  the  later  life 
of  Aaron  Burr.  This  was  in  1822.  Madame  Jumel  was  a  woman 
of  more  than  ordinary  attractions,  and  her  husband,  although 
considerabty  older,  was  one  of  the  finest  specimens  of  well-pre 
served  manhood  in  New  York.  His  death  occurred  as  the  result 
of  an  accident  by  the  collision  of  his  vehicle  with  a  carman's  dray 
at  one  of  the  wharves.  The  carman's  horse  becoming  frightened 
and  unmanageable,  fell  from  the  wharf  into  the  river  and  was 
drowned,  and  Mr.  Jumel  was  thrown  from  the  light  cart  he  was 
driving.  The  accident  was  witnessed  by  a  crowd  of  people,  who 
loudly  expressed  their  sympathy  with  the  drayman,  and  Jumel, 
who  did  not  at  the  time  realize  the  extent  of  the  internal  injury 
he  had  received,  drew  from  his  purse  a  bill,  and,  presenting  it  to 
the  carman,  said  to  the  crowd,  "  I  pity  him  ten  dollars.  How 
much  do  you  pity  him?"  The  carman  by  this  means  realized 
an  amount  that  more  than  covered  the  value  of  the  horse  he  had 
lost,  but  Mr.  Jumel  was  destined  to  succumb  to  the  unfortunate 
accident. 

He  was  seventy  years  of  age  when  he  died,  while  his  widow  was 
but  little  past  the  prime  of  life,  and  in  the  full  flush  of  her 
womanly  charms.  Young  McLaren  had  become  well  acquainted 
with  Madame  Jumel  by  frequently  calling  to  make  collections  for 
her  purchases  at  the  establishment,  and  at  this  juncture  she 
consulted  him  upon  engaging  a  competent  and  reliable  person  to 
look  after  her  estate  and  personal  matters. 

As  previously  stated,  although  equally  interested  in  business 
with  his  father,  young  McLaren  was  a  law  student  under  the 
instruction  of  Aaron  Burr,  and  although  he  never  became  an 
active  practitioner,  he  was  considered  an  excellent  authority  where 
difficult  legal  questions  were  involved.  With  an  inclination  to 


4  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

advance  the  interests  of  his  preceptor,  he  named  Aaron  Burr  as 
eminently  the  best  selection  she  could  make.  Madame  Jumel,  hav 
ing  heard  many  unfavorable  reports  of  Mr.  Burr's  previous  ca 
reer,  made  objections  to  McLaren's  recommendations,  but  he 
pleaded  so  effectually  in  Burr's  behalf  that  she  finally  agreed 
to  consult  him,,  and  the  interview  resulted  in  Madame  Jumel  in 
stalling  him  as  her  agent  and  attorney. 

At  the  time  of  Madame  Jumel's  first  consultation  with  Mr. 
Burr  at  his  office  in  Eeed  Street,  he  was  seventy  years  of  age,  but 
of  most  fascinating  presence,  being  straight,  active,  and  agile, 
with  a  perfect  Chesterfieldian  deportment. 

Little  Dan's  father,  who  is  credited  with  a  penchant  for  match 
making,  and  who  really  was  as  much  of  an  adept  in  the  art  as 
any  diplomatic  duenna  exploiting  the  charms  of  some  fair 
debutante,  was  not  slow  to  perceive  the  favorable  impression 
made  by  the  elderly  Adonis  upon  the  susceptible  widow,  and 
forthwith  conceived  the  idea  of  consummating  a  match  which  he 
succeeded  in  carrying  to  a  successful  conclusion.  Aaron  Burr 
had  no  more  steadfast  friend  than  Daniel  McLaren,  whose  sin 
gularly  devoted  zeal  continued  to  the  last,  but  it  may  be  said  that 
few  lived  who  could  exercise  a  more  masterly  influence  over  those 
of  either  sex  than  Aaron  Burr. 

All  this  happened  in  1830,  the  year  when  the  cholera  first 
visited  America,  and  Madame  Jumel,  after  delegating  her  busi 
ness  affairs  to  Aaron  Burr,  decided  to  take  a  carriage  tour  in  the 
interior  of  the  State.  During  the  trip  she  visited  Saratoga 
which  about  that  time  became  celebrated  for  its  waters.  Since 
his  clandestine  marriage  and  the  loss  of  his  young  bride,  Daniel 
McLaren,  Jr.,  by  successful  enterprise  and  strict  attention  to 
business  had  become  what  in  those  days  was  considered  wealthy. 
In  the  year  1853,  he  was  elected  President  of  the  New  Jersey, 
Lombard  &  Protection  Bank,  and  subsequently  he  purchased 
a  large  property  at  the  Saratoga  Springs  which  he  assisted  in 
making  famous  by  a  work  which  he  published  concerning  its 
medicinal  waters  and  which  went  through  several  editions. 

Madame  Jumel's  visit  to  Saratoga  resulted  in  her  purchase  of  a 
completely  furnished  house  from  young  McLaren,  but  she  did 
not  make  it  a  permanent  residence,  and  only  visited  it  occasion 
ally.  Meanwhile  her  intimacy  with  Aaron  Burr  became  more 
and  more  pronounced,  and  the  result  was  a  marriage,  kept  secret 
for  a  while,  but  finally  being  publicly  acknowledged. 

The  subsequent  separation  of  Mr.  Burr  and  Madame  Jumel  was 
caused  by  a  land  speculation  in  Texas  and  an  effort  on  the  part 
of  Aaron  Burr  to  found  a  German  colony  on  the  property.  He 
and  Daniel  McLaren  had,  in  1830,  bought  considerable  property 
in  that  part  of  the  country,  then  a  dependency  of  Mexico.  Some 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    BICE  O 

time  after  this  marriage,  Burr  fitted  out  an  expedition,  consisting 
of  Germans  of  both  sexes,  for  the  purpose  of  settling  the  land, 
but  it  was  not  successful,  and  the  money  which  he  had  used, 
consisting  of  collections  from  the  Jumel  estate,  was  a  total  loss. 
Madame  Jumel-Burr  became  very  indignant,  and  insisted  upon 
taking  the  management  of  the  estate  out  of  his  hands.  This  he 
resisted,  and  a  controversy  ensued,  which  created  a  breach  that 
even  the  friendly  interposition  of  the  "  mutual  friend  "  failed  to 
heal,  and  a  separation  was  the  result.  Notwithstanding  this  state 
of  affairs  existing  between  them,  when  Madame  Jumel  learned 
that  Mr.  Burr  was  lying  ill,  she  buried  her  prejudices,  went  to  his 
relief,  and  had  him  taken  to  her  own  home  where  she  could 
minister  to  his  wants  by  proper  attendance.  As  a  result,  their 
marital  differences  were  healed,  but  not  for  long.  A  violent 
rupture  followed  later,  making  a  final  separation  inevitable.  The 
fateful  tract  of  land  that  created  the  lifelong  difference  between 
Burr  and  Madame  Jumel,  was  subsequently  purchased  by  Mr. 
McLaren. 

The  tragic  termination  of  the  Burr  marriage  did  not  alienate 
the  friendship  existing  between  Madame  Jumel  and  McLaren, 
and  she  continued  to  consult  him  on  legal  matters.  Business 
again  engendered  the  tender  passion,  and  Madame  Jumel-Burr 
was  ready  to  assume  a  new  role  under  the  name  of  McLaren,  and 
so  become  a  stepmother  to  no  less  a  personage  than  Dan  Eice 
himself.  She  was  little  more  than  "  forty  "  and  exceedingly  fair, 
and  Mr.  McLaren  admired  her  beauty  and  her  wit  alike.  The 
obstacle  that  prevented  Dan  Eice  from  having  Madame  Jumel 
for  a  stepmother  is  as  odd  a  one  as  any  in  his  varied  career. 

Mr.  McLaren  was  a  fine  specimen  of  physical  manhood,  except 
in  one  respect.  His  teeth  were  very  defective,  and  Madame  Jumel, 
as  she  has  always  been  called  in  spite  of  her  marriage  to  Burr, 
could  not  endure  an  ugly  mouth.  She  agreed  to  become  Mrs. 
McLaren  on  condition  that  Daniel  should  have  his  teeth  ex 
tracted  and  replaced  by  a  complete  new  set.  This  seems  arduous 
enough  even  now,  but  in  those  days  the  dentist  was  generally  a 
barber  by  trade  and  a  dentist  for  amusement.  The  ordeal  which 
Daniel  McLaren  was  thus  called  to  face,  before  the  time  of  an 
aesthetics,  was  frightful  and  he  protested  that  marriage  on  such 
conditions  cost  too  much. 

But  she  insisted  that  she  would  not  have  a  man  with  such  a 
"  mouthful  of  snaggle  teeth,"  and  as  both  were  obstinate,  the 
projected  marriage  came  to  naught.  People  who  had  watched 
the  progress  of  the  courtship,  said  that,  however  smart  McLaren 
had  proved  himself  in  matchmaking  for  others,  he  had  most 
signally  failed  in  making  one  for  himself.  Mr.  Eice  says  that 
his  father  should  have  married  the  Madam  in  spite  of  his  teeth. 


6  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

Among  his  many  acts  of  free-handed  generosity  there  was  one 
which  especially  is  worthy  of  mention,,  inasmuch  as  it  was  a 
benefaction  which  brought  a  ten-fold  return.  As  early  as  1820 
he  gave  the  command  of  the  schooner  "  Comet/7  originally  a 
privateer  in  the  War  of  1812,  and  which  he  had  purchased,  to  an 
impecunious  friend,  one  Captain  Brown,  who,  however,  con 
tinued  to  be  pursued  by  bad  luck  in  every  venture.  McLaren, 
nevertheless  stuck  to  him  and  advanced  him  several  thousand 
dollars  to  help  him  to  a  fresh  start  in  business.  Captain  Brown's 
affairs  took  a  turn  and  he  acquired  what  at  that  time  was  con 
sidered  a  princely  fortune.  He  did  not  forget  the  generous  hand 
which  had  lifted  him  from  the  mire  of  poverty.  He  was  one  of 
the  wealthiest  men  in  Arkansas,  and  at  his  death  it  was  found 
that  his  early  benefactor  was  down  in  his  will  for  $100,000.  Col. 
U.  Brown,  for  he  bore  that  title  at  the  period  of  his  death,  was 
one  of  the  most  popular  men  in  the  State.  The  hero  of  that  act 
of  friendship  was  the  father  of  the  famous  fighter,  Commodore 
Brown,  of  the  Confederate  navy,  whose  exploit  in  running  the 
Union  blockade  at  the  mouth  of  the  Yazoo  Elver  forms  one  of 
the  thrilling  incidents  of  the  late  War  of  the  Eebellion.  The 
blockading  fleet  seemed  to  have  cut  off  all  hope  of  escape,  but 
Commodore  Brown  took  it  by  surprise,  dashed  boldly  through  in 
the  early  morning  and  got  away  with  a  badly  crippled  but  still 
seaworthy  vessel,  the  ram  "  Arkansas."  After  the  war  the  gal 
lant  tar  purchased  a  cotton  plantation  in  Mississippi  just  opposite 
Helena,  Arkv  and  lived  there  in  delightful  retirement  until 
within  a  few  years.  There,  too,  Mr.  Eice,  the  prince  of  clowns, 
has  often  been  entertained  by  his  friend  and  admirer  of  his 
father. 

In  the  latter  part  of  his  life  Dan  Eice's  father  succeeded 
to  the  sole  grocery  business  in  Pine  Street,  New  York.  One 
hundred  thousand  dollars  in  uncollectable  debts  remained  on  his 
books  when  he  died,  and  their  perusal  offers  the  student  of  human 
nature  a  curious  satire  on  the  morals  of  what  we  term  society 
even  that  long  ago.  McLaren's  generosity  was  not  confined  to 
the  extension  of  credit  to  hungry  and  thirsty  gentility.  In  his 
papers  there  is  a  hotel  bill  which  he  paid  at  Saratoga  for  the 
lovely  and  unfortunate  wife  of  that  Blennerhassett  who  was 
tempted  to  his  destruction  by  his  friend  Aaron  Burr.  It  read  as 
follows:  SARATOGA  SPRINGS,  August  14,  1832. 

MRS.  SARAH  BLENNERHASSETT,  TO  LEWIS  PUTNAM,  DR. 
To  Board  and  Entertainment  for  Mrs.  B.,  serv't  and  child, 

being  2  weeks $13 

Eec'd  Thirteen  dollars  from  D.  McLaren  this  Aug't  14,  in  full 

LEWIS  PUTNAM. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  7 

This  lady  was  the  wife  of  the  celebrated  Harman  Blenner- 
hassett,  who  was  a  victim  of  Burr's  conspiracy.  He  was  born  in 
Hampshire,  England,  but  possessed  of  large  Irish  estates,  which 
he  sold  for  $100,000  and  came  to  America  in  1797,  where  he  pur 
chased  an  island  of  170  acres  on  the  Ohio  Kiver,  a  short  distance 
below  Parkersburg,  Va.  Upon  this  island  he  built  a  fine  man 
sion,  with  all  the  embellishments  which  wealth  and  taste  could 
command.  His  home  became  widely  known  for  its  elegance  and 
the  culture  that  distinguished  its  inmates,  and  among  the  visitors 
to  this  beautiful  retreat  was  Aaron  Burr,  who  became  acquainted 
there  in  1805.  He  soon  enlisted  his  host  in  his  Mexican  schemes 
in  the  belief  that  the  country  was  likely  to  be  involved  in  a  war 
with  Spain,  and  a  fortune  might  easily  be  made  by  enterprise. 
Burr  was  to  be  emperor  and  Blennerhasset  a  duke  and  ambas 
sador  to  England.  In  this  way  Blennerhasset  was  induced  to 
invest  largely  in  boats,  provisions,  arms,  and  ammunition.  He 
left  his  home  and  family  and  went  to  Kentucky,  where  being 
warned  of  Burr's  real  designs;  he  returned  to  the  island  greatly 
disheartened.  However,  through  Burr's  solicitations,  backed  by 
his  wife's  influence,  who  had  now  enlisted  in  the  undertaking 
with  her  whole  soul,  he  yielded  to  the  overture  of  the  project. 

A  proclamation  against  the  scheme  having  been  published 
by  President  Jefferson,  Blennerhassett,  who  was  in  hourly  expec 
tation  of  being  arrested,  escaped  from  the  island  and,  managing 
to  elude  pursuit,  joined  Burr's  flotilla  at  the  mouth  of  the  Cum 
berland  Kiver.  He  was  afterward  arrested  and  sent  to  Rich 
mond  for  trial  in  1807,  but  the  case  against  Burr  having  resulted 
in  acquittal,  the  other  conspirators  were  discharged. 

In  the  meantime  his  island  had  been  seized  by  creditors  and 
everything  upon  it  that  could  be  converted  into  money  was  sold 
at  a  ruinous  sacrifice.  The  beautiful  grounds  were  used  for  the 
culture  of  hemp,  the  mansion  being  converted  into  a  storehouse 
for  the  crops.  In  1811  he  endeavored  to  recover  from  Governor 
Alston,  Burr's  son-in-law,  $22,500,  a  balance  of  some  $50,000 
for  which  he  alleged  Alston  was  responsible.  He  afterward 
bought  1,000  acres  of  land  near  Port  Gibson,  Miss.,  for  a  cotton 
plantation,  on  which  ground  Dan  Rice  has  many  a  time  since 
erected  his  show  tent.  But  the  War  of  1812  prostrated  all  com 
mercial  enterprises.  Becoming  continually  poorer,  in  1819  he 
removed  his  family  to  Montreal,  where  for  a  time  he  practiced 
law.  He  subsequently  sailed  for  Ireland  in  1822  to  prosecute 
a  reversionary  interest  still  existing  there,  and  in  this  he  failed. 
He  next  endeavored  to  procure  employment  from  Portugal  and 
from  the  United  States  of  Colombia.  But  during  the  latter  years 
of  his  life  he  was  supported  by  his  maiden  sister  who,  at  her 
death,  bequeathed  her  property  to  his  wife  and  children. 


8  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

Mine.  Blennerhassett  published  two  volumes  of  poetry — in 
1822,  "  The  Deserted  Isle  "  and  in  1824  "  The  Widow  of  the 
Eock."  Henry  Clay  presented  to  Congress  her  petition  for  re 
imbursement  for  her  losses  by  the  United  States,  but  she  died 
before  it  could  be  acted  on,  in  the  care  of  the  Sisters  of  Charity 
in  New  York  City.  Dan  Eiee's  father  paid  for  the  education  of 
one  of  her  sons,  the  lawyer,  afterward  a  somewhat  noted  prac 
titioner,  who  became  a  citizen  of  St.  Louis,  where  Dan  Eice  has 
often  been  his  client.  Mrs.  Blennerhassett  was  a  lovely  and 
virtuous  woman,  who  won  the  respect  and  admiration  of  all  who 
knew  her. 

In  taking  a  backward  glance  at  the  career  of  Aaron  Burr,  it  is  a 
pathetic  appeal  to  the  humanizing  instincts  that  mark  the  gener 
ous  thought  of  our  progressive  age.  With  his  proud  spirit  broken 
by  the  weight  of  repeated  failures;  when  his  foes  assailed  him  in 
the  decline  of  his  power  and  his  friends  had  not  the  courage  to 
uplift  him  in  his  helplessness,  he  turned  in  sorrow  and  humilia 
tion  from  the  social  world  and  vanished  into  retirement,  appeal 
ing  to  his  daughter,  Mrs.  Alston,  of  South  Carolina,  to  come  to 
him  and  thus,  by  her  presence,  help  him  to  regain  a  renewed 
hold  on  life.  This  request  from  her  father  touched  the  sensitive 
nature  of  Mrs.  Alston,  and  as  her  failing  health  required  a  change 
of  climate,  she  decided  to  join  him  on  Staten  Island  and  share 
his  loneliness.  All  the  world  knows  the  sad  sequel,  and  can  ten 
der  its  generous  sympathy,  even  at  this  late  day,  for  the  anguish 
of  one  of  our  most  conspicuous  lights  of  the  historical  past. 

When  the  news  finally  reached  Aaron  Burr  in  New  York,  that 
his  daughter,  Theodosia,  had  lost  her  life  on  the  North  Carolina 
coast  by  the  wrecking  of  the  pilot  boat  "  Patriot,"  on  which  she 
had  taken  passage  in  order  to  reach  her  father  at  the  earliest 
possible  moment,  his  strong  spirit  was  crushed  by  his  terrible 
loss  and  her  sad  misfortune.  In  the  midst  of  these  trials,  when 
the  shadows  were  gathering  fast  around  his  life,  and  painful 
memories  thrust  their  realities  before  him  for  future  retrospect, 
he  sent  for  his  trusted  and  valued  friend,  Daniel  McLaren,  know 
ing  full  well  that  his  sympathies  were  genuine  and  his  friendship 
unalloyed.  Mr.  Eice  informs  us  that  Burr  entrusted  to  his 
father  the  management  of  a  private  arrangement  to  investigate 
the  wrecking  of  the  "  Patriot,"  for  floating  rumors  aroused  a  sus 
picion  that  the  vessel  might  probably  have  fallen  into  the  hands 
of  the  land  pirates  who  infested  the  Carolina  coast  and  those  of 
other  States  where  the  sand-bars  and  other  formations  made  it 
dangerous  for  shipping  in  those  times  when  the  government 
signals  were  sparsely  scattered  along  the  water  line.  The  land 
pirates,  taking  advantage  of  that  fact,  continued  to  follow  their 
unholy  calling  by  placing  decoy  signals,  luring  the  vessels  out 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  9 

of  safe  paths  in  tempestuous  weather  and  causing  them  to  strand 
on  the  bars  and  shoals;  when,  under  the  pretense  of  giving  aid  to 
the  unfortunate  crew  and  passengers  in  acts  of  mercy.,  they  would 
board  the  stranded  wreck,  secure  the  valuables,  and  inhumanly 
compel  the  people  to  "  walk  the  plank." 

Many  a  life  was  lost  under  such  circumstances,  and  many  dark 
deeds  and  weird  scenes  were  enacted,  whose  haunting  memories 
still  live  in  the  shadowed  history  of  those  early  days.  Being 
satisfied  that  such  was  the  fact  in  regard  to  the  unfortunate 
"  Patriot/'  upon  which  the  daughter  of  Aaron  Burr  took  passage, 
Daniel  McLaren,  as  previously  intimated,  privately  planned  and 
financially  supported  the  investigation  that  successfully  proved 
beyond  a  doubt  the  truth  of  the  rumors  that  reported  the  fatality 
of  the  pilot  boat  "Patriot"  on  the  first  day  of  January,  1813. 
At  that  period  there  was  a  shrewd,  prominent  public  character 
in  New  York,  by  the  name  of  Hayes,  and  Mr.  Rice  informs  us 
that,  judging  from  his  father's  description  and  his  own  personal 
boyhood  knowledge  of  the  man,  he  possessed  all  the  intriguing 
qualities  of  a  Byrnes  and  the  penetrating  cleverness  of  the 
Pinkertons  of  to-day,  in  the  subtle  points  of  the  police  and  de 
tective  service.  This  man,  possessing  all  these  natural  capacities, 
was  well  fortified  for  the  mission  to  unravel  the  tangled  ends  of 
the  mystery  surrounding  the  death  of  Aaron  Burr's  beautiful 
daughter. 

So  Daniel  McLaren,  interesting  himself  in  the  cause  of  suffer 
ing  humanity,  secured  this  man's  confidence  and  furnished  him 
with  funds  to  promote  the  object,  and  satisfy  his  old  friend  and 
previous  instructor  as  to  the  real  fate  of  his  cherished  child. 
Therefore,  nearly  six  months  after  the  wrecking  of  the  "  Patriot/' 
Mr.  Hayes  started  from  New  York,  furnished  with  ample  means, 
disguises,  etc.,  and  with  such  instructions  as  would  assist  him 
in  his  mission  of  mercy,  and  arrived  in  Norfolk,  Va.,  on  the  first 
day  of  June.  In  due  time  he  began  his  investigations.  Dis 
guising  himself  as  a  sailor,  he  visited  their  lodging-houses  and 
resorts,  and  by  affecting  the  seaman's  swagger,  slang,  etc.,  he 
soon  became  quite  popular  among  the  seafaring  fraternity,  and 
won,  in  time,  their  confidence.  In  making  inroads  upon  their 
prejudices  by  offering  occasional  "  grogs  "  whenever  and  wher 
ever  they  met,  he  gained  an  insight  into  the  true  character  of  the 
different  individuals;  and,  by  insinuating  his  familiarities,  he 
gradually  began  to  weave  his  web  around  the  victims.  After 
succeeding,  by  long,  persistent  efforts,  in  finding  among  his  boon 
companions  the  wreckers  of  the  "  Patriot,"  he  sought  their  so 
ciety  and  gained  their  confidence  to  such  a  degree  that  they  re 
vealed  their  places  of  rendezvous  and  gave  to  him  the  secrets  of 
the  wrecking  system.  The  vantage  ground  of  the  "  bankers  " 


10  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

was  on  the  long  sand-bars  that  fence  the  coast  outside  of  Curri- 
tuck,  Albemarle,  and  Pamlico  Sound,  and  they  explained  for  his 
benefit  the  "  bankers' "  method,  and  related,  among  other  inci 
dents,  the  story  of  the  wreck  of  the  "  Patriot,"  and  of  their  im 
plication  in  the  death  of  the  crew  and  passengers,  among  whom 
was  a  beautiful  lady.  Mr.  Hayes  was  now  confident  that  he  had 
sufficient  evidence  to  justify  his  opinion  that  he  had  the 
assassins  within  his  grasp,  so  he  hastened  the  proceedings.  He 
had  the  three  men  placed  under  arrest,  and,  at  the  hearing  before 
the  magistrate,  they  made  a  confession  and  gave  to  the  world 
the  solved  mystery  of  the  "  Patriot."  The  main  incidents  at 
the  trial  were  as  follows: 

A  decoy  signal  had  lured  the  fated  "  Patriot "  on  a  sand-bank 
off  Kitty  Hawk  and  Nags'  Head,  and  the  "  bankers,"  after  board 
ing  the  vessel,  rifled  the  crew  and  passengers  of  money,  jewels, 
and  other  valuables.  Every  individual  was  either  killed  in  hand- 
to-hand  combat  or  forced  to  "  walk  the  plank." 

To  the  great  surprise  of  the  pirates,  the  beautiful  lady,  who 
was  none  other  than  Theodosia,  the  daughter  of  Aaron  Burr, 
sprang  forward  of  her  own  accord,  and,  rushing  along  the  cruel 
pathway,  threw  her  arms  imploringly  to  heaven  as  she  sank  be 
neath  the  waves.  And  the  sweet  spirit  of  Theodosia  Burr  was 
soon  beyond  the  reach  of  such  painfully  cruel  experiences  in  the 
calm  of  a  merciful  forgetfulness.  Before  she  made  the  fatal 
plunge,  the  leader  of  the  pirates,  perhaps  imbued  at  that  moment 
by  a  faint  gleam  of  conscience,  shouted  his  orders  to  "  save  the 
lady."  But  they  came  too  late  to  prevent  the  tragedy.  Thus 
perished  one  of  the  most  beautiful,  accomplished,  and  perfect 
women  of  those  days  of  chivalry.  Besides  being  the  daughter  of 
a  man  whose  historic  career  had  made  him  famous  as  a  true  friend 
to  those  who  had  tested  his  friendship,  and  an  enemy  to  be  feared 
when  justice  to  himself  demanded  it,  this  superior  woman  was 
also  the  gifted  wife  of  Governor  Alston,  of  South  Carolina,  who 
worshipped  her  memory  as  the  fleeting  years  brought  him  nearer 
to  the  pure  retreat  of  her  spirit's  home.  Thus,  through  the  com 
bined  efforts  of  Daniel  McLaren  and  Mr.  Hayes,  together  with 
the  full  approval  of  Aaron  Burr,  the  death  of  that  lovely  woman, 
Theodosia  Burr- Alston  was  avenged,  and  the  three  arrested  men, 
Abner  Smith,  Joseph  Gale,  and  George  Eoebeck,  the  self-ac 
cused  criminals,  paid  the  penalty  with  their  lives,  being  hanged 
on  June  28,  1813. 

The  only  hope  that  served  to  brighten  the  declining  years  of 
Aaron  Burr  had  vanished  with  his  daughter's  life,  and  he  never 
ceased  to  mourn  her  loss.  Being  in  ill-health  at  the  time,  almost 
ruined  socially  and  financially,  and  living  in  anticipation  of  the 
expected  coming  of  his  daughter,  who  had  previously  written  to 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  11 

him  that  she  would  take  passage  on  the  "  Patriot "  in  coming  to 
New  York,  as  Captain  Carter  was  her  husband's  friend,  and  she 
would  feel  safe  under  his  supervision  in  the  hazardous  journey 
before  her,  he  felt  that  her  presence  would,  in  a  measure,  serve 
to  harmonize  conflicting  opinion  and  cause  a  smoother  flow  as  he 
drifted  down  with  advancing  years.  But  the  realization  never 
came,  and  instead,  the  sobbing  sea  sent  forth  a  dirge  that  moaned 
the  passing  of  his  daughter's  life. 

Mr.  Eice  tells  us  that  his  father's  authority  in  guarding  the 
memory  of  this  man  is  unbiased  in  its  authenticity,  notwithstand 
ing  the  fact  that  the  world  has  been  prejudiced  and  taught  to 
think  differently.  Mr.  McLaren  has  said  that  "  those  who 
were  closely  associated  with  Aaron  Burr  and  were  intimately 
acquainted  with  the  inside  character  of  his  private  life  never 
failed  to  find  anything  but  grand  incentives  engendered  in  his 
great  mind,  that  have  ever  been  misinterpreted,  because  of 
a  universal  failure  to  approach  his  nature  correctly,  and  t  give 
honor  to  whom  honor  is  due/  The  proof  of  which  is  evident 
in  the  fact  that  his  natural  pride  never  indulged  in  controversies 
in  defence  of  himself." 


CHAPTEK   II. 

THE  MAN  AH  AN  ROMANCE — THE  MOTHER^  REMARRIAGE — LITTLE 
DAN'S  BOYHOOD  DAYS  IN  NEW  YORK — HE  LEARNS  TO 
RIDE  AT  FIVE,  AND  BECOMES  A  SUCCESSFUL  QUARTER- 
HOUSE  JOCKEY — TAKEN  BY  MANAHAN  TO  PHILADELPHIA 
AND  TRENTON  TO  RIDE,  WITHOUT  HIS  MOTHER'S  KNOWL 
EDGE — SERVING  MILK  IN  A  MINIATURE  CART — THE  TWO 
DUFFY  BROTHERS — DAN?S  INDEPENDENT  NATURE — HIS 
ADVENTURES — PETER  COOPER  HIS  LIFELONG  FRIEND. 

WHEN  little  Dan  Rice  had  spent  two  years  on  the  farm  in 
New  Jersey,  where  he  acquired  his  love  of  fresh  air  and 
nature,  his  mother,  who  had  resumed  her  maiden  name  since 
her  separation  from  his  father,  went  to  New  York  on  a  visit  to 
her  sister,  Mrs.  Hugh  Reed,  who  lived  at  the  corner  of  Centre  and 
Franklin  Streets,  near  where  the  Tombs  now  stands.  The  milk 
Baby  Dan  drank,  while  on  this  visit,  came  from  Manahan  &  Mills, 
who  managed  one  of  the  largest  dairies  in  the  city,  and  it  was 
served  each  morning  by  Mr.  Manahan  himself.  In  those  days 
Manahan  was  considered  a  handsome  man  of  pleasing  address, 
and  Miss  Crum  was  young  and  gifted  in  like  manner;  therefore 
it  is  not  strange  that  Cupid's  darts  pierced  both  hearts  and 


12  KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

created  a  courtship,  for  such  it  proved  to  be,  that  was  carried  on 
like  that  of  the  reapers  and  milkmaids  in  the  old  song,  "  In  the 
early  morn." 

The  young  mother  had,  during  the  early  part  of  their  acquaint 
ance,  confided  to  him  the  story  of  her  life  and  unpropitious  mar 
riage,  and  as  she  was  then  beyond  the  age  of  parental  interfer 
ence,  she  accepted  his  proposal,  and  after  six  months  they  were 
married  at  the  home  of  her  sister,  Mrs.  Eeed.  As  the  mother  had 
command  of  the  one  thousand  dollars  received  from  her  former 
husband,  at  which  time  she  assumed  the  position  of  trustee  of 
her  boy,  she  very  unwisely  allowed  a  portion  of  this  sum  to  be 
invested  in  purchasing  the  dairy  interest  of  Mills,  Manahan's 
partner,  and  also  in  still  further  increasing  the  capacity  of  the 
establishment.  The  newly  wedded  pair  had  commenced  house 
keeping  on  Mulberry  Street,  at  a  point  between  Spring  and 
Prince  Streets,  and  were  seemingly  devoted  to  each  other;  and  in 
consequence  everything  opened  propitiously  for  a  happy  future. 

Contrary  to  the  usual  custom  under  similar  circumstances, 
little  Dan  was  an  especial  favorite  with  his  stepfather,  who  ever 
treated  him  with  parental  affection,  so  that  his  early  life  was 
nurtured  in  love  and  tenderness. 

Through  all  the  peculiar  phases  of  his  varied  life,  Mr.  Rice 
has  never  forgotten  the  first  accident  which  befell  him  in  those 
early  days,  and  it  was,  indeed,  of  such  a  character  as  to  leave  a 
lasting  impression  through  life.  Shortly  after  Manahan's  mar 
riage,  he  one  day  carried  little  Dan  to  the  dairy  stable,  in  which 
there  was  a  great  commotion  amongst  the  cattle,  and  he  found 
that  a  fractious  cow  had  broken  loose.  Before  unfastening  the 
stable  door,  with  a  view  of  securing  the  unruly  animal,  Manahan 
stood  the  boy  upon  a  plank  lying  across  a  huge  square  box  of 
stable  earth.  It  required  several  minutes  to  restore  order  in  the 
stable,  but  when  he  returned  for  Dan  he  was  startled  to  find  that 
he  was  no  longer  in  sight.  He  rushed  to  the  box  where  the  only 
evidence  of  the  boy's  existence  was  seen  in  the  shape  of  a  small 
pair  of  red  shoes  projecting  from  the  surface.  He  had  toppled 
over  headforemost  into  the  vat,  and  when  drawn  out  was  in 
sensible.  Had  he  remained  a  few  seconds  longer,  this  history 
would  never  have  been  written.  His  first  visit  to  a  stable  re 
sulted  unfavorably  in  a  disgusting  experience,  but  did  not  re 
strain  him  from  making  repeated  trips  to  where  the  cattle  were 
stabled,  and  as  time  advanced,  his  childish  labor  performed  its 
share  in  the  demands  of  increasing  cares.  He  was  accustomed 
to  say  in  after  years  that  he  "  matured  so  early  because  he  had 
been  manured  so  early."  the  clown's  initiative  of  his  premature 
entrance  into  the  world's  cares  and  its  strifes.  And  a  friend  has 
also  remarked  of  Mr.  Rice,  when  drawing  a  comparison,  that  "  A 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  13 

jewel  found  in  an  ofl'al  pile  loses  none  of  its  worth,  but  sparkles 
with  increased  brilliancy  when  worn  upon  the  bosom  of  virtue." 

Instruction,  also,  at  an  early  age  was  not  lacking  to  open  to 
the  precocious  mind  of  little  Dan  liice  the  rudiments  of  theories 
that  were  of  such  vital  importance  in  his  early  advent  into  prac 
tical  experiences.  When  he  was  four  years  of  age  he  was  sent  to 
school  regularly;  therefore  the  foundation  was  laid  for  the  re- 
suits  that  followed  in  succession  in  after  years. 

The  Manahan  dairy  had  in  the  meantime  nourished  and  the 
town  had  grown  in  such  close  proximity  to  it,  that  a  sale  was 
consummated  by  Dan's  parents  and  the  proceeds  were  invested 
in  Thirteenth  Street  near  Sixth  Avenue.  Success  again  followed 
the  Manahan  dairy  and  it  prospered,  but  the  city  still  continued 
to  grow,  and  finally  encroached  upon  it  once  more,  when  a  second 
sale  was  made,  and  Manahan  established  his  business  in  a  locality 
now  occupied  by  Twenty-sixth  Street  and  Sixth  Avenue,  but 
which  was  at  that  time  a  remote  spot  just  opposite  the  Varian 
Farm.  A  new  era  now  opened  in  the  life  of  the  little  lad,  and  it 
was  to  his  stepfather's  love  for  horses  that  Dan  owed  the  be 
ginning  of  his  career  on  the  turf.  Manahan  taught  him  to  ride 
when  he  was  five  years  old,  and  he  became  an  expert  quarter- 
horse  rider  by  the  time  he  reached  the  age  of  seven.  His  step 
father  had  a  passion  for  quarter-racing,  which  was  then  a  prime 
sport  with  a  large  portion  of  the  inhabitants  of  Manhattan  Island, 
as  such  pastimes  invariably  are  in  such  primitive  neighborhoods. 
In  these  quarter-mile  races  Dan  was  generally  successful. 

Manahan  was  the  owner  of  a  blooded  mare  named  Black  Maria, 
which  he  had  matched  for  a  half-mile  dash  against  an  equally 
celebrated  mare  belonging  to  a  man  named  Ludlow.  The  race 
was  arranged  to  come  off  at  Hoboken  upon  the  New  Jersey  side 
of  the  North  Eiver,  and  the  excuse  that  Manahan  made  for  tak 
ing  Dan  away  from  his  mother  was  that  he  wanted  him  to  assist 
in  driving  home  a  milch  cow.  While  the  party  waited  at  the 
ferry  landing  for  the  boat,  the  boy,  with  his  natural  curiosity  ever 
on  the  alert,  was  attracted  by  the  sight  of  the  shipping,  and 
stepping  around  a  pile  of  cordwood  to  obtain  a  better  view, 
grasped  a  projecting  stick  which  happened  to  be  loose  and  was 
instantly  precipitated  into  the  water,  which,  as  the  weather  was 
cold,  was  thinly  covered  with  ice.  The  child  sank  beneath  the 
surface,  but  a  sailor  from  a  sloop  lying  at  anchor  near  by  had 
witnessed  the  accident,  plunged  in,  securing  the  boy  as  he  rose, 
and  saved  him  from  drowning.  Manahan  was  naturally  much 
alarmed  and  offered  the  man  ten  dollars  for  risking  his  life  to 
save  that  of  the  lad,  but  the  sailor  refused  to  receive  it,  remarking 
"  it  would  be  a  mean  business  for  a  man  to  make  a  charge  for  sav 
ing  a  fellow-creature  from  drowning."  The  small  fellow-crea- 


14:  KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

ture  had,  in  the  meantime,  met  with  a  narrow  escape,  and  after 
he  had  been  resuscitated  was  put  to  bed  in  the  Bear  Tavern,  situ 
ated  on  the  site  of  the  well-known  Everett's  Hotel  in  Barclay 
and  Vesey  Streets.  Every  precaution  was  taken  to  prevent  the 
development  of  unpleasant  results  that  might  arise  from  his  ac 
cidental  plunge,  and  by  the  time  his  clothing  was  dried  he  was 
again  in  a  condition  to  meet  the  requirements  of  the  racing  pro 
gram,  and  as  an  example  of  the  elastic  frame  and  physical  en 
durance  of  young  Kice,  it  may  be  stated  that  within  two  hours 
after  the  immersion  he  was  on  his  way  to  Hoboken,  and  that  he 
came  off  the  victor  in  a  well-contested  race.  These  scenes  oc 
curred  in  1828,  and  it  may  here  be  mentioned  that  little  Dan 
heard  the  declaration  of  the  noble  sailor  who  saved  his  life,  and 
he  treasured  it  deep  in  his  heart,  for  from  that  day  he  evinced 
a  lively  interest  in  whatever  concerned  the  welfare  and  advance 
ment  of  seafaring  men.  In  after  life,  his  contributions  to  the 
building  of  Seamen's  Bethels  and  donations  to  Seamen's  Homes 
were  fruitful  testimony  of  the  warm  feeling  he  cherished  in  their 
behalf,  nor  has  any  seaman  in  distress  ever  appealed  to  him  for 
assistance  without  having  cause  to  hold  Dan  Rice  in  grateful 
remembrance.  The  assertion  can  be  sustained  that  sturdy  little 
Dan  actually  rode  quarter-races  for  his  stepfather  when  he  was  so 
small  that  it  was  found  necessary  to  insure  safety  by  tying  him 
on  the  horse,  a  fact  that  appeals  as  a  protest  against  Manahan 
initiating  infancy  into  the  reckless  sports  of  the  racing. 

Old  New  York  residents  may  remember  the  old  yellow  tavern 
that  stood  on  a  road  that  represents  the  present  Sixth  Avenue, 
the  space  between  the  tavern  and  Twenty-first  Street  being  ex 
actly  a  quarter  of  a  mile.  This  was  the  track  upon  which  these 
quarter-races  were  run,  and  many  an  audience  composed  of  the 
sporting  fraternity  cheered  the  jockey  in  embryo  on  these  occa 
sions,  and  those  nearest  to  him  by  natural  ties  little  dreamed  that 
in  the  early  future  he  would  begin  his  life's  career  by  an  opening 
on  the  racecourse.  Although  Dan  was  so  young  and  small,  yet 
he  was  remarkably  strong  and  athletic,  and  hence  was  soon  in 
demand  as  a  rider.  He  was  so  proficient  in  the  exercises  that 
the  prominent  sporting  character,  Jim  Kelly,  of  Philadelphia, 
who  owned  a  celebrated  horse  named  Snowball,  induced  Manahan 
to  take  Dan  to  that  city  to  ride  him  a  thousand-yard  race.  Snow 
ball  was,  without  doubt,  the  fastest  horse  of  his  time,  and  it  is 
questionable  if  his  superior  exists  at  this  day  in  point  of  speed. 
He  was  matched  against  General  Wilkinson's  horse,  Buck.  It 
may  be  here  mentioned  that  General  Wilkinson  is  the  officer  cred 
ited  by  common  report  in  those  days  with  having  given  informa 
tion  to  the  government  concerning  the  expedition  of  Aaron 
Burr,  although  he  was  in  Mr.  Burr's  employ.  Snowball 


KICK    IN    COSTUME    OF    Silt    WILLIAM    HAKCOUKT 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  15 

was  a  bad  one  to  get  off  from  the  score.  He  had  a  habit  of  rear 
ing  that  would  at  times  throw  him  off  his  balance  and  he  would 
fail  over  backwards,  and  upon  many  occasions  caused  serious 
injury  to  the  rider.  After  several  efforts  in  this  event  they  got 
a  send-off,  and  were  neck  and  neck,  when  about  half-way  up  the 
track  Buck  bolted  towards  the  cemetery,  and  first  swerving  from 
the  course,  he  made  a  sudden  stop  at  the  stone  wall.  The  boy 
who  rode  him  was  thrown  over  the  wall,  and  his  head  striking 
full  upon  a  tombstone,  the  skull  was  fractured  and  he  was  taken 
up  dead. 

Dan  was  next  taken  to  Trenton  to  ride  at  the  Fall  Meeting, 
where  he  was  engaged  by  the  owner  to  exercise  the  ill-natured 
Buck  who  had  caused  so  fatal  a  termination  to  the  race  at  Phila 
delphia.  Young  as  he  was  and  inheriting  a  love  for  animals  that 
had  in  it  no  trace  of  fear,  Dan  felt  sure  he  could  cure  the  horse 
of  bolting  and  was  willing  to  ride.  Buck  was  matched  against 
a  mare  named  "  Big  Larry's  Mare,"  her  owner  being  Big  Larry, 
a  member  of  the  sporting  fraternity  who  lived  in  Brooklyn  and 
tipped  the  scales  at  three  hundred  pounds.  There  was  a  large 
attendance  and  considerable  betting.  It  was  an  even  race  until 
they  came  to  the  homestretch,  where  there  was  a  fence  on  each 
side  of  the  track,  and  at  this  point  Buck  made  an  attempt  to  bolt. 
He  had  previously  had  some  experience  of  Dan's  discipline  with 
the  butt  of  the  whip,  and  quick  as  thought  it  was  brought  down 
with  a  heavy  blow  on  his  nose.  This  proved  to  be  an  effectual 
persuader,  for  there  was  no  other  attempt  at  bolting,  and  Dan 
brought  him  home  a  winner  by  half  a  length.  Manahan  was 
highly  elated  over  the  success  of  little  Dan  as  a  race  rider  and  in 
tended  to  take  him  again  to  Trenton  to  attend  the  regular  fall 
meeting  of  the  Jockey  Club,  and  in  the  interval  returned  home. 
He  had  won  considerable  money  during  the  trip  to  Philadelphia 
and  Trenton,  to  which  was  added  that  which  Dan  had  earned  by 
riding.  The  prospective  attendance  at  the  meeting  of  the  Jockey 
Club  came,  to  naught,  and  Dan  remained  home  the  whole  of  that 
winter.  Child  as  he  was,  he  milked  four  cows  every  morning 
before  daylight,  afterwards  driving  a  milk-cart,  for  Manahan 
had  a  special  one  of  small  size  made  for  him  to  deliver  milk  to 
a  certain  round  of  customers.  Thus  he  was  also  early  initiated 
in  a  business  capacity,  and  it  will  be  observed  that  the  home  life 
of  the  little  man  was  tilled  with  all  the  novelty  and  endless  variety 
of  tasks  that  are  comprised  in  a  busy  home.  His  mother,  not 
withstanding  her  failing  health,  regularly  attended  the  church 
service  on  Sunday,  at  which  times  little  Dan's  presence  was  also 
indispensable;  and  besides,  he  was  required  to  attend  the  Sabbath- 
school,  the  impressions  of  which  were  lasting,  for  it  brought  into 
action  all  the  eloquence  and  moral  suasion  that  his  mother  could 


16  KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

command  to  prove  to  him  that  a  duty  neglected  is  something 
eternally  lost. 

In  the  spring.,  at  his  mother's  request,  he  was  taken  from  the 
charge  of  the  milk  route  and  sent  to  a  school  located  in  what 
is  now  the  Seventh  Avenue  near  Twenty-first  Street,  New  York 
City.  With  the  spirit  for  mischief  reigning  uppermost  in  his 
boyish  nature,  it  seemed  almost  impossible  to  interest  him  in 
school  tasks,  and,  as  he  was  very  apt,  he  intuitively  caught,  at  a 
glance,  that  which  would  prove  hard  work  to  others  of  his  little 
companions.  The  restless  promptings  of  his  active  temperament 
often  led  him  into  committing  heedless  offences,  and,  when  the 
summer  came,  school  life  was  a  secondary  affair  in  his  opinion, 
and  the  balmy  air  offered  its  allurements  in  numerous  tempta 
tions  that  often  caused  him  to  play  the  truant  and  led  him  to  the 
riverside.  Dan  and  his  half-brother,  William,  went  frequently 
with  other  boys  to  the  North  Eiver  to  watch  the  swimmers;  and 
among  these  truants  there  would  invariably  be  found  two 
brothers  named  Peter  and  Barney  Duffy.  As  little  Dan  Rice's 
friendships  were  warm  and  true,  he  formed  a  great  liking  for 
these  two  brothers,  and  they  claimed  a  large  share  of  his  boyish 
patronage.  Upon  one  occasion,  while  watching  the  pastimes  of 
the  swimmers,  they  stood  upon  an  uncertain  raft  on  the  water, 
and  Dan,  in  his  natural  forgetfulness  of  all  else  except  the  fun, 
unfortunately  fell  in  through  an  airhole,  and  would  certainly 
have  been  drowned  if  it  had  not  been  for  the  presence  of  mind  in 
that  great-hearted  lad,  Peter  Duffy,  who  slipped  down  through 
the  hole  and  with  a  great  effort  caught  Dan  as  he  was  rising,  but 
not  before  he  had  floated  under  the  logs.  It  was  an  act  of  mercy 
that  bound  more  closely  the  friendship  of  the  two  boys;  and,  re 
gardless  of  the  distance  between  them  in  after  years,  and  the 
difference  in  their  careers,  that  one  event  was  never  bridged 
over  by  forgetfulness.  Peter  was  somewhat  of  a  pugilist  when 
a  boy,  and  gave  Dan  his  first  instructions  in  boxing,  and,  whether 
to  his  credit  or  not,  Dan  proved  an  apt  pupil,  and  found  many 
opportunities  in  his  after  life  in  which  to  bring  young  Duffy's 
theory  into  practice,  to  which  many  a  previous  antagonist  can 
testify,  even  at  this  late  day.  Dan's  gratitude  to  Peter  Duffy  was 
evinced  in  later  years  in  an  extraordinary  way. 

The  next  event  that  occurred  in  little  Dan's  life  was  his 
entrance  to  the  Kellogg  Seminary  that  stood  at  Prince  Street  and 
Broadway,  and  to  which  he  was  driven  every  morning  by  one  of 
his  father's  employees,  who  also  returned  for  him  in  the  evening. 
This  state  of  affairs  would  have  proved  of  incalculable  benefit  to 
the  lad  had  he  been  left  to  the  entire  management  of  his  devoted 
mother,  but  Mr.  Manahan's  great  love  for  sport  was  the  handi 
capping  hindrance  to  his  improvement  at  the  Seminary,  for  on 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  IT 

Saturdays  he  would  create  some  business  excuse,  and  take  little 
Dan  to  some  prearranged  rendezvous  to  ride  quarter-races. 

Tucker's  Lane,,  near  Harlem,  had  now  superseded  the  old  Yellow 
Tavern  for  those  quarter  stretches,  and  this  place  was  the  scene 
of  the  boy's  next  advent  in  the  racing  world.  The  excitement 
attending  these  races  soon  had  a  tendency  to  give  him  a  distaste 
for  school  and  filled  his  young  mind  with  ideas  that  made  him 
restless  when  under  restraint,  and  as  a  result,  on  one  occasion, 
to  gain  his  entire  freedom,  he  ran  off  with  Peter  Duffy  and  re 
mained  away  two  days  and  nights.  The  two  boys  were  afraid  to 
return  home  when  they  awakened  to  the  serious  strait  into  which 
the  misdemeanor  had  led  them;  so,  to  preserve  their  independ 
ence,  they  obtained  situations  in  Peter  Cooper's  glue  factory. 
While  there,  they  were  as  full  of  mischief  as  it  is  possible  for  two 
such  exuberant  spirits  to  be,  and  indulged  in  all  sorts  of  pranks 
in  consequence.  Upon  one  occasion,  one  little  fellow  thought 
lessly  dared  the  other  to  follow  him  to  the  extreme  edge  of  a  roof 
of  the  factory,  and  Mr.  Cooper  at  that  moment  happened  on  the 
scene  and,  from  beneath  apprehending  the  danger,  commanded 
them  to  stop.  He  ordered  an  employee  to  place  a  ladder  against 
the  eaves  and  bring  the  boys  down,  after  which  he  boxed  their 
ears  as  a  form  of  mild  rebuke,  and  having  previously  found  out 
who  they  were,  sent  them  directly  to  their  homes  under  escort. 
Little  Dan  received  a  severe  chastisement  at  the  hands  of  his  step 
father,  but  the  spirit  of  the  lad  was  not  broken  nor  even  sub 
dued,  and  he  resented  the  indignity  by  again  running  away. 
This  time  he  repaired  to  the  home  of  his  aunt,  Mrs.  Hugh  Reed, 
who  lived  in  Centre  Street  opposite  the  Collect.  Being  a  great 
favorite  of  hers,  he  was  sure  of  a  warm  sympathy  in  his  behalf, 
which  she  was  not  slow  in  rendering;  so  Dan  felt  encouraged 
to  resort  once  more  to  his  native  independence,  and  his  cousin 
Hugh  procured  for  him  a  situation  in  Lorillard's  tobacco  factory, 
where  he  expected  to  be  initiated  in  a  new  field  of  action.  But 
he  was  not  destined  to  remain  long  in  his  new  surroundings,  for 
his  stepfather,  having  learned  of  his  whereabouts,  went  to  the 
establishment,  and,  adopting  a  process  radically  different  from 
the  previous  policy  he  had  employed,  persuaded  the  little  lad  to 
return  home  with  him,  and  as  a  panacea  to  cover  the  results  of 
his  former  harshness,  offered  him  a  handful  of  silver  coins.  The 
compromise  being  satisfactory,  the  boy  returned  to  his  home  and 
commenced  life  again  under  the  old  regime,  again  attending  the 
school,  and  upon  Saturdays,  as  in  previous  times,  being  taken 
by  his  stepfather  to  ride  the  quarter-races. 

It  is  worthy  of  mention  here  that  Mr.  Manahan  never  after 
ward  resorted  to  harsh  severity  with  his  stepson;  for  experience 
had  taught  him  that  the  high-spirited  lad  inherited  a  nature  that 
2 


18  EEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

would  not  bear  it.  Living  as  he  did,  in  an  atmosphere  where 
impending  shadows  seemed  ever  intruding,  although  nurtured 
with  the  fondest  care  his  gentle  mother  could  bestow,  he,  with 
the  quick  perception  of  childhood,  intuitively  felt  that  something 
was  going  wrong  as  her  health  gradually  failed,  and  her  increasing 
efforts  in  his  behalf  filled  the  little  man's  heart  with  an  awe  that 
only  his  matured  mind,  in  later  years,  could  interpret. 

It  has  ever  been  characteristic  of  Mr.  Rice  to  remember  the 
friends  of  his  early  days,  and  his  benevolent  spirit  can  be  traced 
in  many  circumstances  that  bear  evidence  of  this  manly  attribute, 
that  caused  many  a  heart  to  take  on  new  courage  when  his  be 
hests  have  been  extended  ungrudgingly  and  with  wide-open  hand. 

In  the  palmy  days  of  affluence,  during  the  height  of  his  pro 
fessional  career,  one  little  incident,  out  of  scores  of  others  of 
greater  moment,  may  be  mentioned  here.  Mr.  Rice  had  ever 
been  grateful  to  Peter  Duffy  for  his  kindness  to  him  in  his  early 
days,  and,  having  a  strong  desire  to  remunerate  his  old  friend 
with  something  more  substantial  than  words,  he  had  a  deed 
drawn  in  Duffy's  name  for  a  handsome  farm  of  two  hundred  acres 
near  Mr.  Rice's  old  home  in  Girard,  Pa.,  fully  equipped  with 
stock  and  appurtenances,  and  presented  the  deed  to  him  per 
sonally.  As  Mr.  Duffy  had  always  been  a  proverbial  city  man, 
his  ideas  of  life  at  farming  were  somewhat  crude.  He  felt  that 
he  could  not  honorably  accept  that  which  he  was  entirely  un 
fitted  for,  so  with  tears  in  his  honest  eyes  as  he  looked  in  Mr. 
Rice's  face,  he  remarked,  "  Why,  Lord  bless  you,  Dan,  Fd  starve 
to  death  on  a  farm!  " 

Late  in  the  fall  and  winter  of  1857-58  when  Mr.  Rice  had  his 
great  show  at  Niblo's  Garden,  he  visited  Mr.  Cooper  at  his  lovely 
home  on  Lexington  Avenue,  and  when  he  made  known  to  that 
gentleman  who  he  was,  Mr.  Cooper  remarked,  "  Are  you  the 
famous  clown  jester,  Dan  Rice,  that  I  read  so  much  about  in  the 
papers?  "  To  which  Mr.  Rice  replied,  that  he  represented  that 
personage.  In  the  course  of  conversation  Mr.  Rice  related  to  Mr. 
Cooper  the  subject  of  his  boyish  pranks  at  the  glue  factory  and 
mentioned  the  practical  reprimand  he  received  from  his  hand, 
and  added,  "  The  impress  of  your  hand  on  my  ears,  Mr.  Cooper, 
I  have  never  forgotten,  and  I  think  such  impressions  made  at  the 
right  time  often  follow  a  boy  through  life."  To  which  he  made 
a  laughing  reply  that  they  often  did,  and  asked  what  had  be 
come  of  the  other  boy.  Mr.  Rice  informed  him  that  Peter  Duffy 
was  now  a  respected  citizen  and  struggling  manfully  with  the 
stream  of  human  adventure.  Mr.  Cooper's  retentive  memory 
held  many  reminiscences  of  those  earlier  years,  which  were  as 
vivid  as  when  they  first  occurred. 

He  had  a  fondness  for  horses  and  trained  animals  and  advo- 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  19 

cated  athletic  sports,  so  Mr.  Rice  invited  him  to  bring  his  family 
to  Xiblo's  that  evening  and  see  the  exhibition,  which  he  did,  and 
expressed  himself  as  highly  pleased  with  every  phase  of  the  per 
formance.  During  Mr.  Cooper's  presidential  campaign  in  1876, 
Mr.  Rice  being  a  great  admirer  of  the  distinguished  candidate, 
distributed  over  three  hundred  thousand  circulars  favoring  Mr. 
Cooper's  election  as  he  travelled  with  the  great  show  through 
the  different  States. 

In  April,  1883,  when  Mr.  Rice  was  in  New  York,  he  was  again 
the  guest  of  Mr.  Cooper,  and  accepted  an  invitation  to  accompany 
him  to  the  Cooper  Union,  where  he  was  to  deliver  an  address 
that  evening.  The  weather  was  decidedly  unpropitious,  and, 
Mr.  Cooper,  being  very  infirm,  gladly  availed  himself  of  Mr. 
Rice's  assistance,  and  with  his  help  ascended  the  steps  and 
reached  the  auditorium,  taking  Mr.  Rice  with  him  on  the  plat 
form.  The  chairman  of  the  evening,  who  introduced  Mr.  Cooper, 
in  the  course  of  his  remarks  paid  a  fine  tribute  to  the  many 
philanthropic  acts  of  that  gentleman,  who  had  done  so  much 
towards  placing  advantages  within  the  reach  of  the  people  who 
had  aspiring  minds,  and  especially  in  the  erection  of  the  grand 
building  in  which  they  were  assembled.  "  It  is  a  home,"  he  said, 
"  in  which  growing  minds  can  develop  and  grapple  with  the 
difficult  problems  of  theory  and  learn  how  to  apply  them  prac 
tically  in  the  requirements  of  every-day  life.  And  the  Cooper- 
Union  will  ever  be  a  monument  to  the  philanthropic  donor  whose 
honored  name  it  bears."  Mr.  Cooper  rose  slowly  to  address  that 
vast  concourse  of  people,  and  in  his  opening  remarks  said  that, 
while  he  had  been  enabled  to  do  much  toward  the  advancement  of 
the  deserving,  he  very  much  regretted  that  he  had  not  been  able 
to  do  more.  That  which  he  had  been  instrumental  in  doing  had 
been  confined  chiefly  to  local  objects;  but  he  took  great  pleasure 
in  introducing  to  that  vast  assemblage  a  distinguished  gentleman, 
the  famous  clown  and  jester,  Mr.  Dan  Rice,  whose  philanthropic 
•acts  were  universally  scattered  broadcast  throughout  the  land, 
and  his  last  achievement  that  he  had  read  of  commended  itself 
to  all  loyal,  loving  people — that  of  erecting,  at  his  own  personal 
expense,  in  Girard,  Pa.,  a  splendid  monument,  commemorating 
the  deeds  of  the  heroic  dead  who  sacrificed  their  lives  in  the  War 
of  the  Rebellion.  At  Mr.  Cooper's  mention  of  the  monument 
the  audience  gave  an  enthusiastic  and  prolonged  applause,  to 
which  Mr.  Rice  responded  by  rising  and  gracefully  bowing  his 
acknowledgment  of  their  appreciation  of  his  efforts.  Mr.  Cooper 
then  continued  his  remarks;  but,  in  a  short  time,  begged  the 
audience  to  excuse  him  as  he  was  not  feeling  well.  He  repaired 
at  once  to  his  home,  accompanied  by  Mr.  Rice,  his  indisposition 
increasing  meanwhile,  and  he  partook  of  a  hot  beverage  to  coun- 


20  EEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

teract  the  chill  superinduced  by  exposure  to  the  damp  and  frosty 
night  air.  Mr.  Kice  bade  him  good-night  and  went  to  his  hotel, 
feeling,  with  the  rest  of  his  friends,  that  Mr.  Cooper  would  in  a 
short  time  be  restored  to  his  usual  good  health,  but  in  a  few  days 
was  surprised  and  pained  to  read  the  obituary  in  a  morning 
paper.  Thus  another  grand  life  passed  to  his  reward,  garnered 
into  the  progressive  state  unseen  by  mortal  eyes. 


CHAPTER    III. 

A    MEMORABLE     NIGHT     AT     THE 

DOMESTIC  TROUBLES — HIS  M 

AHAN'S  REMORSE — YOUNG  DAN  LEAVES  HOME  AND  BEGINS 

LIFE    ON    HIS    OWN    RESPONSIBILITY — FROM    SCHOOL    TO 

SADDLE — HIS  SUCCESS  IN  THE  RACING  WORLD — NOTES  ON 

THE    CLOWN   AND  THE   CLERGYMAN — DANIEL  McLAREN^S 

BEREAVEMENT. 

WHILE  this  state  of  affairs  was  pending,  Mr.  Manahan  had 
began  to  show  a  disposition  to  neglect  his  family  and  to 
frequently  absent  himself  from  them  at  night;  and  Dan,  taking 
advantage  of  the  fact,  would  steal  away  from  his  home  in  com 
pany  with  young  Duffy,  and  together  they  would  wander  down 
town,  bent  on  seeking  amusement.  They  frequently  went  to  the 
Bowery  Theatre  and  caught  the  passion  for  the  play.  On  one 
occasion  a  ghostly  performance  was  being  enacted,  in  which  there 
was  a  scene  representing  a  graveyard  with  apparitions  of  demons, 
etc.,  and  Mr.  Charles  Parsons,  one  of  the  greatest  tragedians  of 
that  day,  acted  the  leading  part.  It  created  a  marked  sensation 
in  the  audience  and  the  younger  element  especially  were  pro 
foundly  impressed.  Our  two  young  heroes  being  numbered  with 
the  latter,  it  is  to  be  inferred  that  they  also  were  afflicted  with  the 
contagion. 

It  was  near  midnight  when  the  play  ended,  and  Dan  and 
young  Duffy  started  immediately  for  their  homes.  They  parted 
in  Thirteenth  Street,  where  Peter  lived,  and  our  little  man 
pursued  his  way  home  alone  with  his  mind  wrought  to  a  high 
state  of  excitement  by  what  he  had  experienced.  He  sturdily 
strode  along  rapidly,  ruminating  on  the  gruesome  incidents  of  the 
evening,  when  suddenly  there  started  up  across  his  path  a  large 
black  dog,  and,  to  his  exaggerated  vision,  it  was,  indeed,  the 
largest  he  had  ever  seen.  It  was  a  moment  of  great  terror  to  the 
boy,  the  lateness  of  the  hour  dawned  upon  him,  and,  with  his 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  21 

nervous  temperament  strained  to  the  utmost,  he  imagined  that  it 
was  the  evil  one  himself  that  had  come  to  frighten  him  out  of 
existence.  As  a  natural  consequence.,  the  supreme  moment  came 
when  the  great  black  creature  bounded  away,  and  then  the  terri 
fied  lad  found  safety  in  flight.  No  foot  race  on  record  was  ever 
marked  in  better  time  than  he  accomplished,  as  he  almost  flew 
over  the  public  thoroughfare  to  his  home  on  Twenty-sixth  Street 
and  Sixth  Avenue.  No  thought  of  the  midnight  marauder  that 
might  enter  the  house  and  molest  the  other  inmates  ever  entered 
his  head  as  he  rushed  in,  leaving  the  door  wide  open  behind  him, 
and  he  seemed  to  be  imbued  with  but  one  impression — that  "  self- 
preservation  is  the  first  law  of  nature,"  and  he  was  satisfied  that 
he  had  found  it  when  he  jumped  into  bed  without  undressing 
and  buried  his  head  beneath  the  covers.  Many  years  elapsed  be 
fore  he  entered  another  theatre,  for  circumstances  were  forming 
a  path  in  which  he  little  dreamed  his  feet  would  wander;  but  the 
memory  of  that  night  was  never  obliterated,  although  the  frosts 
of  time  have  now  whitened  the  head  of  our  hero. 

In  the  meantime  Dan  still  continued  his  course  of  studies  at 
the  Seminary,  where  the  preceptor  had  received  special  instruc 
tions  to  improve  his  talents  as  rapidly  as  his  capacity  would  allow, 
without  regard  to  monetary  consideration,  therefore  every  effort 
was  put  forth  to  gain  that  end.  But  still  the  evil  genius  pursued 
him  in  the  form  of  the  races;  and  after  witnessing  the  contests 
on  the  Union  Course,  to  which  his  stepfather  took  him  on  one 
occasion,  his  sole  ambition,  regardless  of  all  opposition  to  the 
contrary,  was  to  become  a  great  rider.  It  was  only  a  step  from 
the  school  to  the  saddle.  The  course  Mr.  Manahan  pursued  with 
the  little  stepson  was  not  approved  by  the  boy's  mother,  whose 
ideas  were  at  variance  in  regard  to  Mr.  Manahan's  apparent  in 
difference  to  the  lad's  moral  well-being  when  he  was  out  of  the 
influence  of  her  presence;  whilst  Manahan,  in  his  mania  for  the 
excitement  of  the  sports  of  the  turf,  took  especial  pains  to  invent 
misleading  excuses  to  keep  from  her  the  knowledge  of  his  en 
couragement  of  the  youngster's  natural  bent,  and  little  Dan  him 
self  with  his  acute  perception  was  also  cultivating  an  ingenious 
faculty  in  the  same  direction. 

Mr.  Manahan  was  a  man  of  fine  presence,  Dame  Nature  having 
bestowed  upon  him  some  of  her  choicest  gifts  in  that  direction; 
but  it  requires  inherited  attributes  of  an  elevated  standard  to 
give  character  and  strength  to  mental  adornment,  which  he  failed 
to  discover,  being  trammelled  by  a  spirit  of  inconsistency,  albeit 
a  liberal  man  in  his  views.  The  exacting  Methodism  of  his  wife 
annoyed  him,  his  connection  with  turfmen  and  the  sporting 
fraternity  did  not  tend  to  strengthen  his  moral  nature;  and  soon 
the  winecup  and  its  inferred  associate  evils  made  him  oblivious 


22  KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

of  his  duties  as  a  husband  and  father.  He  was  one  of  a  coterie 
of  victims  led  in  fetters  by  that  fille  de  joie,  Helen  Jewett,  whose 
subtle  charms  caused  many  a  grief  in  homes  that  were  supremely 
happy  before  her  advent.  She  was  a  Boston  girl  of  rare  beauty, 
and  possessed  all  the  accomplishments  and  cultivated  arts  that 
appeal  to  man's  susceptibility,  and,  in  many  instances,  causes  his 
downfall.  The  real  name  of  this  woman  was  Mary  Rogers  and 
her  wild  race  in  life  ended  on  April  10,  1836,  when  she  fell  by  the 
hand  of  an  assassin,  who  was  one  of  her  paramours,  named  Rob 
inson.  The  murder  created  a  great  sensation,  especially  among 
those  who  had  been  inveigled  by  the  subtlety  of  her  snares,  and 
they  had  reaped  a  wretched  harvest  while  her  memory  sank  into 
forgetfulness.  Mr.  Manahan,  prior  to  his  acquaintance  with 
Robinson,  had  become  infatuated  with  this  woman,  and  seem 
ingly  made  no  effort  to  conceal  his  liaison  from  his  wife.  As  the 
husband  became  more  estranged,  his  conduct  to  his  wife  and 
family  assumed  a  more  unnatural  bearing,  until  entreaty  and  re 
proaches  alike  were  hopelessly  unavailing.  But  the  end  was  fast 
approaching  when  the  mother's  heart  would  forever  cast  aside 
the  painful  memories  of  her  short  but  eventful  life,  and  enter  the 
new  existence  where  time  makes  all  things  right  and  where  for 
giveness  is  indeed  unalloyed.  It  should  be  borne  in  mind  that, 
although  Mr3.  Manahan  was  the  mother  of  several  children,  in 
cluding  little  Dan,  she  was  only  on  the  verge  of  twenty-eight 
when  she  died,  in  the  winter  of  1831.  During  the  consciousness 
of  her  last  moments  when  she  had  made  a  disposition  of  William, 
Elizabeth,  and  Catherine,  the  children  that  composed  their  little 
family,  Manahan  betrayed  one  redeeming  quality  in  his  nature 
that  had  not  been  entirely  eradicated  by  his  associations,  by  ask 
ing  her — "  What  shall  I  do  with  Dannie  ?  "  The  mother's  heart 
knowing  full  well  the  independent  spirit  of  her  cherished  lad, 
answered,  "  He  will  take  care  of  himself."  Then  missing  his 
presence,  she  inquired,  "  Where  is  Dannie?  "  The  almost  heart 
broken  boy  had  been  standing  outside  the  doorway,  an  eyewitness 
to  the  sorrowful  scenes  that  were  being  enacted,  but,  hearing  his 
own  name  mentioned,  he  hastened  to  his  mother's  side,  and  with 
her  hand  on  his  young  head,  heard  the  last  words  that  proved  his 
talisman  through  a  long,  eventful  career.  "Always  look  after 
your  little  sisters;  never  lose  sight  of  them  and  never  desert 
them."  These  parting  words  whispered  in  his  ear  reverberated 
long  after  the  mother's  form  was  laid  to  rest  in  the  old  graveyard 
at  the  corner  of  Carmine  and  Hudson  Streets,  and  helped  to  de 
velop  the  spirit  of  self-reliance  which,  when  in  after  years  cir 
cumstances  threw  him  among  the  mixed  associations  of  his  pro 
fessional  career,  stood  him  in  such  good  stead. 

Soon  after  his  mother's  death,  home  associations  proved  so 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  23 

distasteful  to  the  sensitive  lad  that  he  resolved  to  leave  the  scenes 
of  his  painful  memories  and  look  for  something,  he  knew  not 
what,  to  assist  him  in  forgetting  them.  He  sighed  for  some  relief 
to  deaden  his  first  real  sorrow  that  he  could  scarcely  realize  and 
but  crudely  interpret.  The  vacant  place  in  the  home  was  a 
source  of  sadness  that  was  almost  unbearable,  and  his  child-heart 
was  crushed  with  its  weight  of  loneliness,  for  the  gentle  mother's 
absence  had  left  an  aching  void.  Being  high-spirited,  and  with 
no  grown  relative  near  to  advise  him,  he  left  his  stepfather's 
house  and  exhibited  the  independence  in  his  nature  by  seeking 
his  fortune  in  the  wide  world.  He  never  dreamed,  in  his  heart 
broken  sorrow,  of  appealing  to  any  one  near  him  by  the  ties  of 
relationship.  He  manfully  shouldered  his  own  burdens  and 
faced  his  life  of  fate  alone. 

One  day,  as  the  early  evening  came  on,  the  solitude  was  most 
depressing,  and  he  determined  to  make  a  beginning  in  forming 
the  opening  chapters  of  his  new  career.  He  prepared,  as  was  his 
custom,  the  children  for  retiring,  and,  as  he  embraced  for  the 
last  time  his  brother  and  two  little  sisters,  he  mentally  vowed, 
with  bursting  heart  and  eyes  full  of  tears,  that  he  would  return  to 
them  when  a  man  and  take  care  of  them.  The  promise  he  gave 
to  his  mother  he  was  ever  mindful  of  during  a  long  period  of 
active  usefulness,  and  it  has  been  redeemed  abundantly.  It  may 
be  mentioned  here  that  the  one  thousand  dollars  that  had  been 
settled  by  his  grandfather  upon  little  Dan  was  largely  expended 
\)j  Mr.  Manahan  in  New  York  and  the  residue  of  it  was  used  in 
purchasing  a  farm  at  Fresh  Pond  (now  called  North  Long 
Branch),  on  the  Shrewsbury  Eiver  in  New  Jersey.  The  pur 
chase  was  made  from  Joseph  West,  an  uncle  of  Dan's  on  the 
maternal  side.  After  Dan  left  his  home  on  that  memorable 
evening,  his  previous  experience  inclined  him  to  look  to  the  turf 
for  a  living;  so  he  crossed  the  East  Eiver  at  Catherine  Street 
ferry,  and  made  his  way  to  the  old  Union  Course,  back  of  Brook 
lyn,  to  which  Mr.  Manahan  had,  on  several  occasions,  taken  him. 
He  was  now  a  sturdy,  agile,  and  strong-minded  lad  of  eight  years, 
and  had  already  given  promise  of  the  phenomenal  physical 
strength  of  which  he  has  since  made  so  much  capital.  He  wan 
dered  to  the  racecourse  stables  of  Mr.  John  McCoun,  one  of  the 
most  experienced  horse-trainers  in  the  country,  who,  when  he  saw 
the  boy,  expressed  great  surprise  that  he  should  be  so  far  away 
from  his  home  at  night.  But  when  the  lad  explained,  he  compre 
hended  the  situation  at  a  glance,  and  took  the  little  fellow  into 
the  circle  of  his  own  family,  and  in  a  few  days,  having  recognized 
his  ability,  he  engaged  him  in  the  business,  and  his  task  was  to 
exercise  and  ride  the  two-year-olds. 

It  was  very  fortunate  for  the  boy  that  he  selected  the  guardian- 


24:  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

ship  of  Mr.  McCoun,  for  that  gentleman  was  well  qualified  to 
sow  the  seeds  of  first  principles  in  the  right  direction  in  a  nature 
that  was  so  susceptible  at  that  time  of  life.  He  became  Dan's 
first  patron  on  the  turf,  and  it  is  an  interesting  incident  to  be 
remembered  in  that  connection  that  John  McCoun's  son  and  suc 
cessor,  Dave  McCoun,  won  the  great  Suburban  race  on  the 
Brooklyn  track  in  1891. 

The  peculiar  circumstances  that  caused  our  hero  to  seek  the 
protecting  care  of  Mr.  McCoun  were  sufficient  to  enable  him  to 
take  the  boy  at  once  under  his  special  care,  and  he  soon  discovered 
that  his  protege  would  eventually  become  one  of  the  best  riders 
upon  the  course.  The  thought  of  returning  the  youthful  truant 
to  his  home,  or  of  advising  his  stepfather  of  his  whereabouts, 
never  entered  Mr.  McCoun's  head,  as  it  was  a  principle  with  him 
to  relieve  the  unfortunate  if  possible.  While  horsemen  are  gen 
erally  liberal  and  generous,  and  passably  honest  except  when 
making  a  horse  trade,  their  morality  is  universally  conceded  to  be 
somewhat  at  variance,  and  it  was  Bulwer  who  remarked  that  the 
atmosphere  of  the  stable  probably  had  something  to  do  with  that 
fact,  but,  be  that  as  it  may,  the  knowledge  of  Dan's  escapade 
rather  advanced  him  than  otherwise  in  the  estimation  of  his 
trainer  as  a  boy  of  pluck  and  spirit,  and  Mr.  McCoun  gave  him 
every  advantage  to  become  an  expert  in  the  business  and  an 
honor  to  himself  as  well.  Our  young  lad  at  this  time,  1831,  had 
just  rounded  his  eighth  year,  and  as  he  proved  an  apt  pupil,  was 
pronounced  a  credit  to  his  trainer,  who  during  his  rudimentary 
training  as  a  rider,  took  the  liveliest  interest  in  his  advancement. 
His  first  professional  mount  was  at  Trenton,  N.  J.,  at  the  Fall 
races  in  1832.  President  Andrew  Jackson,  who,  with  a  portion 
of  his  cabinet,  had  been  entertained  with  the  great  chief  Black 
Hawk  at  dinner  that  day  in  Trenton,  was  present  at  this  race, 
and  Dan  rode  the  filly  Lizzie  Jackson,  named  for  the  President's 
favorite  niece.  It  was  mile  heats  and  he  brought  Lizzie  cleverly 
to  the  front  and  passed  the  post  a  winner.  As  this  was  his  first 
professional  triumph,  it  was  rendered  more  memorable  by  the 
special  notice  of  President  Jackson,  who,  being  doubtless  much 
gratified  with  the  success  of  the  filly  named  for  his  niece,  placed 
his  hand  on  Dan's  head  and  said,  "  My  boy,  if  you  live,  you  will 
make  either  a  great  man  or  a  great  fool."  In  a  measure  this  re 
mark  was  prophetic  in  a  dual  sense;  he  was  destined  to  become  a 
great  clown.  Such  a  compliment  from  the  "  Hero  of  Xew  Or 
leans,"  filled  the  boy's  soul  with  delight,  and  though  at  this  late 
day  memory  recalls  the  impression  of  "  Old  Hickory's  "  hand 
upon  his  head,  Mr.  Rice  at  times  remarks  that  it  did  not  hit  him 
hard  enough  to  make  a  Jacksonian  Democrat  of  him.  After  the 
Trenton  episode  he  returned  to  Long  Island,  where  his  next  race 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  25 

was  upon  a  horse  called  April  Fool,  the  property  of  Walter  Liv 
ingstone,  of  Oyster  Bay.  The  race  was  a  single  dash  of  two  miles, 
which  he  won.  The  riders  in  this  post  stake  were  George  Nel 
son,  Gil.  Patrick,  and  Charlie  Hood.  His  next  mount  was 
Emilius,  rated  the  best  three-mile  horse  in  the  country,  were  it 
not  for  the  fact  that  in  the  progress  of  a  race  he  was  liable  to 
sulk  and  suddenly  stop,  and  besides  he  was  addicted  to  a  vicious 
habit  of  reaching  around  and  biting  the  leg  of  the  rider.  As 
Dan  was  selected  to  ride  him,  he  agreed  to  do  so  provided  he  was 
permitted  to  adopt  what  measures  he  pleased  to  protect  himself. 
Mr.  McCoun,  the  trainer,  who  had  previously  had  evidence  of  the 
boy's  good  judgment  in  such  instances,  gave  his  consent,  and 
Dan  had  a  strong  leather  legging  made  to  cover  the  left  leg,  as  the 
vicious  creature  had  never  been  known  to  attack  the  right  one. 
The  legging  was  thickly  studded  with  sharp  brads,  and  when  Dan 
was  giving  the  horse  a  walking  exercise,  he  allowed  him  full  play 
of  the  bridle.  In  a  brief  period  Emilius  reached  around  with 
open  mouth  and  seized  the  leather  covering,  but  in  a  moment  let 
go  and  did  not  attempt  to  bite  until  he  reached  a  corner  of  a  road 
on  which  lived  a  well-known  individual  of  that  day,  the  Daniel 
Drew  of  steamboat  fame,  and  whose  house  was  passed  on  the  way 
to  the  sand  track.  It  was  there  Emilius  made  another  attempt 
to  bite,  holding  on  to  the  legging  for  a  moment,  but  he  soon  again 
let  go  with  his  mouth  pierced  and  bleeding.  At  the  same  time 
Dan  increased  the  painful  treatment  by  striking  him  over  the 
nose  and  ears  with  the  handle  of  his  riding-whip.  This  punish 
ment  repeated  for  a  few  days  completely  broke  him  of  his  pro 
pensity  for  biting.  Next  came  the  question  of  the  best  means 
of  breaking  him  of  the  habit  of  sulking,  which  made  him  un 
reliable  when  the  race  was  in  progress,  and  to  effect  this,  Dan 
adopted  a  purely  original  method.  He  brought  into  requisition 
a  pitchfork  with  three  sharp  tines,  and  when  exercising  the  horse, 
had  one  of  the  sons  of  Nathaniel  Rhodes,  who  owned  the  sand 
track,  to  ride  behind  him  on  Emilius  armed  with  the  pitchfork. 
The  first  experiment  was  made  on  the  old  sand  track  when  Dan 
was  taking  the  horse  through  the  process  of  a  sweat.  The  fitful 
nature  of  the  spirited  creature  possibly  rebelled  against  the 
double  burden  he  was  bearing,  for  Emilius  sulked  and  stood  per 
fectly  still.  Young  Rhodes  thereupon  applied  freely  the  punish 
ment  of  the  pitchfork,  at  which  Emilius  snorted,  reared,  plunged, 
and  kicked,  but  the  discipline  was  continued  until  he  started  off. 
The  same  treatment  was  subsequently  repeated  in  a  trial  of  speed 
which  finally  broke  him  of  the  habit;  consequently  he  was  en 
tered  for  the  three-mile  race,  and  with  Dan  for  his  rider,  he  won. 
The  horse  was  the  property  of  Duff  Green,  a  sporting  man  of 
New  York,  who  recompensed  Dan  for  the  trouble  he  had  taken 


26  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

with  his  valuable  racer  by  presenting  him  with  a  new  suit  of 
clothes  and  twenty  dollars  in  money,  which  was  a  perquisite 
worth  possessing  for  a  boy  of  his  age.  He  was  taught  and  ad 
vised  by  Mr.  McCoun  to  hold  his  salary  and  present  money  sub 
ject  only  to  his  personal  needs,  and  he  invariably  followed  that 
advice  during  those  early  days  of  his  career  which  had  a  tendency 
to  govern  him  to  some  extent  in  after  life.  But  miserly  instincts 
were  entirely  foreign  to  his  nature,  as  subsequent  events  in  his 
later  life  showed. 

The  young  boy's  success  in  breaking  this  vicious  racer  at 
tracted  great  attention  and  made  him  famous  among  prominent 
horsemen  in  that  locality,  and,  consequently,  his  services  were 
much  sought  after  and  he  became  quite  a  hero.  He  was  in  par 
ticular  complimented  by  Hiram  Woodruff,  in  after  years  the 
chief  of  drivers  in  trotting-horse  contests,  especially  with  Flora 
Temple,  and  the  two  brothers,  John  I.  and  Jerome  Snediker, 
declared  him  to  be  a  "brick."  The  successful  breaking  of 
Emilius  was  the  first  knowledge  Dan  had  of  his  practical  capacity 
in  breaking  and  training  horses,  a  faculty  in  which,  years  after 
wards,  he  became  so  proficient  as  to  cast  all  competition  in  the 
shade.  About  this  time  Dan  was  transferred  by  Mr.  McCoun  to 
"  English  Joe,"  a  remarkable  racehorse  trainer,  whose  horses 
were  stabled  at  John  I.  Snediker's,  at  whose  hotel  Dan  was  taken 
to  board. 

His  services  having  been  transferred  to  "  English  Joe,"  the 
prominent  young  rider  continued  to  be  treated  with  equal  con 
sideration  and  kindness,  and  on  account  of  his  genial  nature  and 
abundance  of  good-humor,  Dan  made  many  friends  under  these 
circumstances  that  brought  him  before  the  public  frequently. 
He  was  engaged  to  ride  two  and  three-year-old  colts,  and  his  pre 
vious  reputation  for  subduing  "  the  fiery,  untamed  steed  "  proved 
to  be  somewhat  of  a  disadvantage,  as  it  procured  for  him  some  of 
the  worst  and  most  unmanageable  colts.  The  first  horse  he  rode 
under  his  new  trainer  was  a  spirited  animal  called  Dr.  Syntax,  a 
two-year-old  who  was  a  terror  to  all  the  young  riders,  for  he 
would  rear  up  and  fall  back,  and  in  this  manner  had  injured 
many  who  had  attempted  to  ride  him.  During  his  first  exercise, 
knowing  full  well  that  only  severe  punishment  would  correct 
his  habits,  Dan  supplied  himself  with  a  heavy  cowhide  whip,  and 
seating  himself  in  the  saddle,  was  prepared  for  any  emergency. 
By  meeting  every  attempt  of  the  horse  at  rearing  by  punishment, 
he  finally  broke  him  of  the  habit,  and  in  a  two-mile  post  stake, 
he  beat  the  remarkable  Dosoris  and  two  other  colts.  At  the  Fall 
meeting,  John  C.  Stevens,  a  prominent  gentleman  and  member 
of  the  sporting  fraternity,  engaged  Dan  Eice  to  ride  Dosoris 
against  Dr.  Syntax,  a  two-mile  race,  which  he  easily  won.  His 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  27 

repeated  triumphs  caused  much  jealousy  among  the  other  riders, 
and  the  climax  of  their  envy  was  reached  when  Mr.  Stevens  took 
Dan  home  to  live  at  his  house,  where  he  spent  the  winter,  was  also 
admitted  into  the  family  circle,  and  was  sent  to  school.  Such 
a  thoughtful  arrangement  on  the  part  of  Mr.  Stevens  for  the 
boy's  welfare  is  worthy  of  mention,  and  how  few  lads,  compara 
tively,  thus  circumstanced,  have  such  advantages  in  this  pro 
gressive  age. 

Mr.  Eice  says  that  his  mother's  death  occurred  during  one  of 
the  most  terrific  blizzards  ever  known  in  New  York  up  to  that 
time,  equalling  the  one  that  occurred  in  March,  1888,  in  violence 
and  magnitude.  Some  idea  of  its  severity  can  be  conceived  when 
he  assures  us  that  several  days  elapsed  before  they  could  bury  the 
body,  and  the  snowfall  was  so  deep  that  the  citizens  turned  out 
en  masse  along  the  funeral  route,  and  made  a  road  from  the 
home,  situated  at  the  corner  of  Twenty-sixth  Street  and  Sixth 
Avenue,  to  the  churchyard,  a  distance  of  nearly  two  and  a  half 
miles. .  It  was  only  with  the  greatest  difficulty  that  three  of  Mrs. 
Manahan's  sisters,  who  resided  in  New  York,  could  attend  her 
funeral.  They  were  the  only  members  of  her  family,  near  and 
dear  to  her,  who  could  possibly  get  to  her  residence  to  attend  the 
last  sad  services. 

But  there  was  a  stranger  noticed  following  the  funeral  proces 
sion  at  some  distance.  A  tall,  distinguished  man,  so  muffled 
in  a  long,  heavy  Spanish  cloak,  that  he  was  not  recognizable. 
His  peculiar  style  and  bearing  caused  Mr.  Eice's  aunts  to  suspect 
that  the  muffled  stranger  was  Daniel  McLaren,  who  was  their 
sister's  first  husband  and  lifelong  friend.  It  eventually  proved 
that  such  was,  indeed,  the  fact;  for,  after  the  interment  had  been 
made  and  the  assemblage  dispersed,  he  was  recognized  by  the 
sexton  as  he  stood  beside  the  new-made  brave  wherein  one  was 
laid  who  occupied  and  held  the  highest  place  in  his  mind  and 
heart  during  a  long  and  eventful  life. 

He  placed  a  memento  on  her  resting  place  as  he  stood  there 
painfully  absorbed  with  his  own  thoughts,  and  finally  left  as 
silently  as  he  had  come. 

In  after  years  he  substantiated  these  facts  to  Mr.  Eice  when 
they  were  once  more  drawn  together  by  natural  ties  that  even  the 
world  could  not  sever. 


28  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    EICE 


CHAPTEE    IV. 

HOW  DAN  PLAYED  CARDS  WITH  LOUIS  NAPOLEON,  THE  EXILED 
FRENCH  PRINCE — LIST  OF  OWNERS  YOUNG  RICE  RODE  FOR, 
AND  THE  RACES  WITH  WHICH  HE  BRUSHED  THE  TURF 
—HIS  MARVELLOUS  JOURNEY  TO  BUFFALO— ARRIVAL  IN 
PITTSBURG. 

TTNDER  the  kind  guardianship  of  Mr.  Stevens,  a  new  life 
LJ  seemed  to  open  to  the  growing  lad,  a  development  to  new 
incentives  that  were  encouraged  by  the  Stevens  household,  for 
they  recognized  in  Dan's  indomitable  will  the  fair  promises  of 
great  aptitude  in  any  vocation  that  he  might  be  fitted  for  in  the 
years  to  come.  Encouragement  coming  from  such  a  source,  filled 
the  boy's  mind  with  a  desire  to  aspire  to  the  requirements  of  a 
different  calling,  but  the  time  had  not  yet  arrived  for  such  devel 
opments,  so  he  pursued  the  old  course  until  he  could  meet  the 
demands  with  a  broader  experience.  Isaac  Van  Leer  was  Mr. 
Stevens'  trainer,  and  Dosoris  was  entered  for  the  Spring  meeting 
in  a  race  of  two  miles  and  repeat.  While  Mr.  Stevens  was  away 
in  New  York,  the  colt,  in  a  trial  of  speed,  sprained  a  sinew  of  the 
foreleg,  and  Dan  was  dispatched  with  a  letter  to  him  advising  the 
withdrawal  of  the  horse.  Mr.  Stevens  was  staying  at  the  Hotel 
de  Paris  on  Broadway,  and  Dan  was  ushered  into  his  presence  in 
a  room  where,  with  several  distinguished  gentlemen,  he  was  en 
gaged  in  a  game  of  draw  poker.  He  delivered  the  missive  to  Mr. 
Stevens,  who  excused  himself  to  answer  the  letter,  at  the  same  time 
introducing  Dan.  "  Gentlemen,"  he  said,  "  this  is  my  favorite 
rider,  Yankee  Dan,"  and  continued,  "  here,  Dan,  play  this  hand 
for  me."  One  gentleman  of  the  party,  whose  costume  impressed 
Dan  as  foreign  and  peculiar,  was  addressed  as  Count  Louis.  It 
must  be  borne  in  mind  that  our  hero,  although  otherwise  unex 
ceptionable  in  his  morals,  had  by  his  associations  with  riders  and 
stablemen  become  an  adept  at  cheating  at  card-playing,  and  so, 
while  the  rest  of  the  party  were  engaged  in  conversation,  Dan  put 
up  the  cards,  dealing  his  own  hand  from  the  bottom.  As  the 
Count  was  out  of  chips,  Dan  loaned  him,  from  Mr.  Stevens'  pile, 
seventeen  dollars,  and  afterwards  "took  the  pot."  The  Count 
Louis  who  impressed  Dan  with  his  personality  was  Louis  Na 
poleon,  afterwards  the  destined  Emperor  of  France,  who  was  at 
the  time  sojourning  in  the  United  States,  and  as  he  had  a  fond 
ness  for  the  races  and  the  sporting  world  in  general,  he  spent 
much  of  his  time  at  the  clubs  among  turfmen  and  all  good  fellows 
who  enjoyed  the  chances  of  the  card  table. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  29 

In  the  racing  fraternity  Dan  was  an  acknowledged  favorite  and 
had  for  some  time  been  recognized  as  the  expert  rider  of  his  day, 
in  fact  one  of  the  best  on  Long  Island,  and  as  his  engagements 
were  continuous,  he  remained  here  until  1836,  when  he  turned 
thirteen  years  of  age.  His  position  brought  him  in  contact  with 
many  prominent  persons  who  interested  themselves  in  his  welfare 
and  extended  their  friendship,  which  continued  long  after  he 
had  gained  prominence  in  the  world  of  entertainment.  Among 
the  well-known  owners  for  whom  he  rode  were  Eobert  L.  Stevens, 
John  C.  Stevens,  Billup  Seaman,  and  Gibbons,  of  Staten  Island; 
"Walter  Livingstone,  of  Oyster  Bay;  Duff  Green,  of  New  York; 
Moccasin  Jackson,  the  owner  of  Bucktail;  Harry  Sovereign,  the 
owner  of  Oneida  Chief,  and  Mr.  Elliott,  of  Baltimore,  owner  of 
Betsy  Ransom.  His  competitors  were  all  noted  riders  of  their 
day,  the  most  prominent  of  which  were  Willis,  the  head  rider  of 
Richard  M.  Johnson,  of  Richmond,  Ya.;  Gil  Patrick,  George  Nel 
son,  Charley  Hood,  Jim  and  Ed.  Jewell,  and  Hiram  Woodruff. 
In  each  and  every  contest  our  hero  acquitted  himself  admirably 
and  won  more  than  his  share  of  the  honors  of  the  turf,  and  on 
account  of  his  extreme  youth,  these  continued  successes  were  per 
haps  more  noticeable  than  they  would  otherwise  have  been  under 
different  circumstances.  Mr.  Sovereign  was  the  owner  of  the 
pacing  horse  known  as  Oneida  Chief  that  Dan  rode  in  the  unprec 
edented  time  of  two  minutes  and  ten  seconds  in  a  trial  of  speed, 
which  fact  created  an  unusual  stir  in  the  sporting  circles  and 
served  to  enhance  his  reputation  among  the  turfmen  in  general. 

The  horses  rode  by  young  Dan  Rice  in  the  course  of  his  brief 
experience  on  the  turf  were  all  celebrated  flyers.  The  most 
prominent  among  them  were  Dosoris,  Dr.  Syntax,  Imported  En 
voy,  owned  by  Judge  Wilkins,  of  Pennsylvania,  who  on  his  return 
to  the  United  States  from  Russia,  where  he  acted  in  the  capacity 
of  Minister  Plenipotentiary,  imported  the  horse  from  England 
and  placed  him  under  the  training  of  "  English  Joe  "  at  Long 
Island;  Boston,  when  a  colt  of  two  years,  April  Fool,  Mingo,  and 
Post  Boy,  which  he  rode  against  the  famous  filly,  Fannie  Wyatt. 
His  latest  mount  was  Dusty  Foot,  one  of  the  most  remarkable 
four-mile  horses  of  his  day.  Another  era  now  opened  in  the  life 
of  the  young  lad,  the  arduous  beginning  of  which  would  have 
crushed  the  stamina  and  moral  courage  of  most  men,  but  the 
indomitable  perseverance  of  youth  conquered  in  the  nature  that 
knew  no  such  word  as  fail,  and  who  can  question  the  fact  but 
that  some  unseen  influence  preserved  the  boy  by  leading  him 
safely  through  the  abyss  of  difficulties  that  faced  him  and  tried 
his  powers  of  endurance  to  the  utmost  capacity.  In  the  year 
1837  he  was  destined  to  bid  adieu  to  Long  Island,  where  many 
cherished  memories  lingered,  and  assume  the  charge  of  Dusty 


30  EEMINISCEXCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

Foot,  which  he  rode  in  many  of  his  previous  races.  The  inten 
tion  of  the  owner  of  the  horse,  William  Goram,  a  Canadian  by 
adoption,  was  to  transport  him  to  Pittsburg,  Pa.,  by  way  of 
Buffalo. 

In  those  days,  as  is  well  known,  railroad  facilities  in  the  United 
States  were  in  their  infancy,  and  after  reaching  Albany  by  way 
of  a  steam  tug,  Dan's  instructions  were  to  lead  the  horse  to  his 
final  place  of  destination,  and  upon  no  account  to  ride  him.  He 
left  Albany  on  the  20th  of  October,  1837,  and  commenced  his 
wearisome  journey.  Most  boys  of  his  age  would  not  have  heeded 
the  prohibition  against  riding,  but  notwithstanding  his  five  years' 
sojourn  among  the  turfmen  and  riders  of  questionable  morality, 
he  stuck  manfully  to  the  task,  and  so,  leading  the  horse  with  one 
hand,  and  with  bucket,  sieve,  brush,  and  currycomb  upon  the 
other  arm,  he  pluckily  pursued  his  way.  It  was  a  dreary,  tedious 
journey,  and  the  weather  became  bitterly  cold,  with  occasional 
heavy  falls  of  snow,  but  although  suffering  severely,  he  bravely 
struggled  on  and  reached  Buffalo  the  first  of  December.  The 
horse  was  consigned  to  Mr.  Henry  Mosier,  who  resided  at  Cold 
Spring,  three  miles  from  the  city,  where  Dan  found  rest  and  re 
lief,  for  his  feet  were  frostbitten  and  he  was  otherwise  prostrated 
by  his  arduous  and  perilous  travel.  Knowing  the  difficulties 
through  which  the  lad  would  naturally  have  to  pass  under  the 
most  favorable  circumstances,  and  having  some  doubt  as  to 
whether  he  had  not  yielded  to  the  temptation  of  riding  the  racer 
during  some  part  of  that  long,  tedious  tramp  from  Albany,  Mr. 
Mosier  queried,  "  Why  did  you  not  ride  the  horse?  "  "  Because 
I  was  forbidden,"  replied  Dan  as  innocently  as  if  he  had  always 
been  in  attendance  at  Sunday-school,  instead  of  for  half  a  decade 
the  compulsory  associate  of  sporting  men  and  stable  boys.  Mr. 
Mosier  gazed  curiously  at  the  lad,  still  almost  doubting  his  verac 
ity,  but  there  was  such  an  open  look  of  honesty  and  ingenuousness 
in  his  countenance,  that,  as  he  afterward  remarked,  he  could  not 
help  being  convinced,  and  Dan  received  every  attention  and  kind 
ness  in  consequence.  As  a  natural  result,  the  fatigue  and  expos 
ure  to  the  extreme  cold,  etc.,  brought  on  an  attack  of  fever,  during 
which  Dan  was  tenderly  nursed  by  the  family,  and  when  suffi 
ciently  recovered  to  continue  his  journey,  his  host  furnished  him 
with  ample  pecuniary  means  to  meet  the  requirements  from  day 
to  day.  On  his  way  through  Cattaraugus  Swamp,  which  was 
inhabited  only  by  Indians,  he  met  with  a  novel  experience  as  he 
passed  through  the  reservation. 

The  strange  spectacle  of  a  horse  clothed  in  trappings  and  led 
by  a  mere  boy,  excited  the  curiosity  of  the  Indians,  and  the  whole 
community  assembled  en  masse  to  comment  upon  it.  They  were 
so  fascinated  with  the  strange  sight  that  they  filled  Dan's  bucket 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    1UCE  31 

to  overflowing  with  beads,  moccasins  and  other  Indian  gifts,  thus 
expressing  their  pleasure  at  the  appearance  of  the  horse,  and,  per 
haps,  sympathy  for  the  boy  who  was  laboring  through  the  huge 
snowdrifts  and  at  times  compelled  to  shovel  a  path  for  his  equine 
charge.  Pursuing  his  way  under  such  extreme  difficulties  in  that 
region,  he  reached  the  town  of  Erie,  Pa.,  in  eight  days  from  the 
time  he  left  Buffalo,  and  was  there  taken  under  the  charge  of 
Gen.  Charles  M.  Reed,  who  had  been  notified  by  letter  and  ad 
vised  of  Dan's  coming.  For  the  brief  period  that  our  hero  re 
mained  there  to  rest  General  Reed  cared  for  him  with  all  the 
tenderness  and  consideration  of  a  father,  and  evinced  a  lively 
interest  in  the  boy,  who,  in  turn,  was  also  impressed  with  a  senti 
ment  of  regard  that  bordered  upon  affection  for  his  kind  enter 
tainer. 

The  young  boy's  eventful  journey  closed  at  Pittsburg,  Christ 
mas  Eve,  1837,  having  lasted  two  months  and  four  days,  and 
Dusty  Foot  was  consigned  to  Judge  Wilkins,  who,  recognizing 
the  lad  who  rode  his  horse  on  Long  Island,  made  life  very  pleas 
ant  for  him  during  his  stay  in  that  hospitable  home.  Dan's 
faithful  fulfillment  of  his  mission  had  entailed  the  endurance  of 
hardships  which  would  have  tried  the  stamina  of  the  most  robust 
man,  but  in  youthful  inexperience,  and  having  no  conception  of 
the  exorbitant  demands  made  upon  his  physical  endurance  by 
the  perils  of  such  a  journey,  he  never  questioned  the  heartless 
imposition  of  Mr.  Goram,  but  merely  considered  he  had  done  his 
duty. 

There  are  certain  persons  still  living  in  Pittsburg  to-day  who 
have  every  reason  to  remember  the  advent  of  the  boy  who  brought 
the  racer  "  Dusty  Foot "  into  the  city  dressed  in  his  winter 
clothes.  The  spectacle  of  a  horse  caparisoned  and  thus  care 
fully  guarded  against  the  weather,  caused  a  deal  of  merriment 
among  the  street  urchins,  who  made  Dan's  entry  a  trifle  too  con 
spicuous  by  hooting  and  throwing  pieces  of  coal,  etc.;  so  asking 
some  gentlemen,  who  stood  near  watching  the  proceedings,  if 
they  would  hold  the  horse,  to  which  they  readily  assented,  our 
young  hero  threw  aside  his  heavy  top-coat,  and,  in  the  boy's  ver 
nacular,  "  pitched  in."  He  caught  two  of  the  young  arabs  and 
impressed  his  personality  upon  them  in  well-directed  blows  that 
ushered  in  his  first  successful  boy-fight  in  the  Smoky  City. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 


CHAPTER    V. 

DAN'S  SUCCESS  AS  A  VENDER — THE  CELEBRATED  RACER,  DUSTY 
FOOT — NICK  BIDDLE'S  WATERLOO — THE  RACE  WITH  GEORGE 
^SEALY — LIFE  ON  REPPERT  FARM — THE  CHERRY  PIE  EPISODE 
— THE  FINE  OLD  STYLE  SPORTING  GENTLEMAN — THE  RO 
MANCE  OF  MADAME  CELESTE  AND  MR.  ELLIOTT. 

A  FTER  his  wearisome  journey  from  Albany,  Dan  quickly 
-LJL.  recuperated  under  the  kind  treatment  he  received  from 
the  family  of  Judge  Wilkins,  and  was  able  to  meet  Mr.  Goram, 
the  owner  of  Dusty  Foot,  who  soon  after  came  to  Pittsburg,  and 
the  whole  party  retired  to  Wilkinsburg,  a  short  distance  from 
that  place,  to  spend  the  remainder  of  the  winter.  Mr.  Goram 
brought  with  him  Barney  Oldwine,  a  youth  from  Long  Island, 
who  was,  years  afterwards,  a  well-known  pilot  on  the  Ohio  River. 
Goram,  the  trainer,  possessed  very  little  of  this  world's  goods 
beyond  his  ownership  of  the  racer.  But  being  gifted  with  the 
genuine  shrewdness  of  the  Vermont  Yankee,  he  felt  obliged  to 
bring  that  gift  into  active  practice  and  devise  some  method 
whereby  the  party  might  exist  until  the  racing  season  opened. 
Acting  on  this  scheme,  he  constructed  a  workshop  in  part  of  the 
house  he  occupied,  and  conceived  the  idea  of  making  rakes,  half- 
bushel  and  peck  measures;  and  in  this  venture  depended  upon 
the  possibility  of  soliciting  a  trade  for  such  articles  among  the 
farmers  and  tradespeople  of  the  surrounding  country.  There 
lived  in  the  community  a  Pennsylvania  Dutchman  named  George 
Peebles,  who  kept  a  hostelry  known  as  the  Yellow  Wagon  Tavern, 
situated  between  Wilkinsburg  and  the  little  village  of  East  Lib 
erty.  He  also  owned  a  large  farm  with  a  fine  lot  of  timber  land 
remote  from  the  house,  and  on  Sundays  when  everything  was 
quiet  and  resting,  Goram  would  take  the  boys  to  these  woods  and 
command  them  to  cut  saplings  and  timber,  which  they  would  be 
required  to  carry  half  a  mile  over  cross  lots  to  their  home.  This 
material  was  made  up  into  the  articles  intended  for  peddling, 
and  as  soon  as  there  was  a  sufficient  supply  to  meet  the  supposed 
demand,  Dan  was  initiated  to  the  degree  of  head  salesman,  and 
was  sent  out  to  solicit  trade  and  dispose  of  the  wares.  It  was 
natural  for  him  to  appeal  to  those  with  whom  he  had  come  in 
contact  since  locating  in  Wilkinsburg,  so  the  first  place  he  called 
at  as  a  peddler  was  the  Peebles  Tavern,  where  he  knew  he  was 
a  favorite,  for  during  the  long  winter  evenings  he  had  frequently 
entertained  the  family  and  habitues  of  the  tavern  with  character 
istic  negro  songs,  dances,  etc.,  and  he  felt  sure  of  securing  their 


KEMINISCEXCES    OF    DAN    BICE  33 

custom  in  disposing  of  his  goods.  And  in  this  enterprise  he  was 
not  mistaken,  for  Mr.  Peebles  bought  liberally,  and  addressing 
his  wife  in  broken  German,  said,  "  Old  voman,  das  ish  der  best 
of  timber/'  alluding  to  the  material  of  which  the  rakes  and  meas 
ures  were  made,  and,  turning  to  Dan,  asked  who  made  them. 
He  replied  that  it  was  Mr.  Goram,  the  owner  of  the  horse,  and 
when  asked  where  he  obtained  the  wood,  Peebles  received  the  as 
tounding  declaration  that  it  came  from  his  own  farm.  Instead  of 
showing  any  displeasure  and  becoming  indignant  at  this  disclos 
ure,  which  had  been  made  by  the  boy  in  all  innocence,  the  good- 
natured  German  laughed  heartily  as  he  exclaimed  to  his  wife, 
"  Old  voman,  das  ish  der  best  joke  vas  I  haf  efer  seen,"  and  after 
paying  Dan  for  his  purchase,  he  dismissed  him  with  a  message 
to  Goram  to  come  and  see  him. 

Whatever  transpired  between  Mr.  Peebles  and  Goram  at  the 
interview,  was  never,  of  course,  disclosed,  but  results  proved  that 
Mr.  Goram  was  forced  to  employ  his  inventive  genius  in  other 
directions,  and  without  the  staple  article  appropriated  from  the 
Peebles  farm.  Besides  the  above  short-lived  manufacturing  en 
terprise,  Goram  made  contracts  for  training  horses,  and  soon  had 
quite  a  stud,  which  business  was,  without  doubt,  the  most  profit 
able  to  him  pecuniarily  and  otherwise.  It  was  the  task  of  the 
two  boys  to  exercise  and  care  for  the  horses,  and  they  were  in  the 
habit  of  procuring  the  straw  needed  for  their  bedding  from  the 
Peebles  farm,  but  it  was  done  in  strict  accordance  with  the  knowl 
edge  of  the  farmer,  for  the  boys  were  obliged  to  thresh  the  grain 
by  the  old  method  of  stamping  it  with  the  horses.  His  com 
panion  exhibited  a  prominent  dislike  for  the  labor  and  proved  to 
be  a  slothful  lad,  and  Dan,  in  open  good  nature,  reproached  him 
with  leaving  to  himself  the  heavier  part  of  the  task.  These  re 
proaches  Barney  resented  in  earnest,  and  the  result  was  a  boy 
fight,  in  which  the  crude  pugilistic  powers  of  each  youthful  com 
batant  were  brought  to  play  in  a  furious  onset,  in  which,  although 
Dan  was  the  younger,  Barney  was  brought  to  terms  by  the  blows 
of  his  antagonist,  and  being  of  a  sulky,  unforgiving  disposition, 
he  declared  his  intention  of  leaving  Mr.  Goram  unless  Dan  was 
discharged.  But  Mr.  Goram  not  being  interested  in  their  per 
sonal  controversies,  showed  a  decided  preference  for  Dan,  which 
so  exasperated  Barney  beyond  his  endurance,  that  he  made  good 
his  threat  and  left  the  trainer's  employ.  He  never  forgot  his 
defeat  and  ever  cherished  his  malice  for  future  developments, 
should  he  ever  meet  the  victor  of  his  spoils,  and  it  subsequently 
occurred  that  such  was  the  feeling  when  Dan  and  he  met  at  the 
races  at  Charlestown,  Kanawha  County,  Va.  Capt.  Tom  Friend 
was  the  owner  of  the  horse,  Nick  Biddle,  against  which  Dusty 
Foot  wTas  entered  in  a  two-mile  race,  and  this  gentleman's  horse 
3 


34  KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

had  Dan's  old  antagonist,  Barney,  for  the  rider.  Mr.  Goram 
told  Barney,  to  whom  he  was  indebted,  that  the  only  hope  of  his 
ever  being  paid  was  to  let  Dusty  Foot  win  the  race,  and  this 
scheme  was  willingly  agreed  to  by  Barney,  who  had  long  waited 
for  Goram  to  cancel  the  indebtedness,  so  it  was  mutually  ar 
ranged  that  Barney  should  make  Captain  Friend's  horse  bolt  from 
the  track  if  there  was  any  possibility  of  outfooting  Dusty  Foot. 
But  in  consequence  of  the  animosity  he  still  cherished  against 
Dan  he  disobeyed  the  instructions  and  won  the  race.  The  last 
day  the  horses  were  again  entered  in  a  four-mile  race  and  repeat. 
This  was  to  be  a  square  race,  and  Dan,  who  well  knew  his  horse 
had  the  bottom,  as  it  is  given  in  horse  parlance,  was  determined, 
if  possible,  to  win,  for  Barney  had  indulged  in  considerable  boast 
ing  after  winning  the  previous  race,  and  apparently  felt  that  his 
chances  for  "  getting  even  "  were  all  but  realized.  The  excite 
ment  of  this  race  was  exceedingly  great,  and  high  enthusiasm 
prevailed,  for  the  first  heat  was  close,  but  at  the  last  turn  Dusty 
Foot  led  and  came  in  a  winner  by  two  lengths.  Barney  was  ex 
asperated  and  complained  to  the  judges  that  Dan  had  cheated  in 
the  race,  for  as  they  turned  into  the  homestretch,  Dan  had 
spurred  his  horse  in  the  shoulder,  but  it  was  evident  to  the  judges 
that  Barney  had  done  the  spurring  himself,  for  like  all  Western 
riders  of  that  day,  in  riding  toe  up,  and  without  any  brace  in  the 
stirrup,  his  heel  had  moved  forward  and  the  spurring  was  the 
inevitable  result.  So  amid  great  enthusiasm  the  heat  was  given 
to  Dusty  Foot,  which  so  enraged  Barney  that  he  unwisely  insulted 
Dan,  who  replied  with  a  direct  blow  upon  Barney's  nose  which 
caused  some  of  his  angry  blood  to  flow.  The  contest  was  abruptly 
brought  to  a  close,  but  not  before  it  was  evident  that  Barney  was 
holding  second  place,  as  usual,  and  as  soon  as  the  young  com 
batants  were  quieted  they  prepared  for  the  second  heat.  Feeling 
sure  that  his  horse  had  the  staying  power,  Dan  grew  ambitious, 
and  was  determined  to  inflict  upon  Nick  Biddle  and  his  rider  a 
Waterloo  defeat,  and  he  accomplished  his  object  by  .pushing  the 
race  from  the  start,  and  at  the  close  shut  out  his  rival  completely. 
Intense  excitement  prevailed  and  our  young  rider  was  the  hero  of 
the  hour.  From  Charlestown  the  boy  was  taken  to  Lexington, 
Ky.,  and  as  his  Long  Island  reputation  in  a  racing  capacity  had 
preceded  him  in  the  West,  his  services  were,  therefore,  in  great 
demand.  He  also  rode  for  both  Harper  and  Alexander  while 
there  and  brushed  the  turf  at  Crab  Orchard,  having  first  obtained 
the  permission  of  Goram,  with  whom  he  was  under  contract.  In 
following  up  these  advantages  he  derived  much  information  from 
his  experiences  in  the  racing  world,  and  keeping  always  in  view 
that  one  idea  of  securing  a  different  position  when  he  grew  older, 
he  still  retained  all  the  cheerfulness  of  his  happy  nature  and  con- 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  35 

tinued  to  struggle  on  to  where  the  star  of  his  destiny  led  him. 
He  went  with  Mr.  Goram  to  Pekin,  0.,  where  he  was  again  suc 
cessful  with  Dusty  Foot.  A  four-mile  race  was  also  run  at  Pekin, 
and  to  compete  in  it,  George  Sealy,  a  capital  fellow,  came  over 
from  Steubenville,  0.,  to  ride  Mr.  John  Hanson's  horse,  Bull-of- 
the- Woods.  George  won  the  first  heat  from  Dan  by  spurring 
Dusty  Foot  in  the  shoulder  and  thus  sheering  him  off  in  the  last 
turn.  This  injustice  aroused  the  indignation  of  Dan,  who  rode 
up  to  the  judges  and  complained  of  George,  who  answered  the 
charge  in  race-rider  fashion  by  the  vehement  exclamation, 
"  You're  a  liar!  "  He  was  a  heavier  and  an  older  boy  than  Dan, 
but  such  epithets  could  be  followed  by  but  one  result,  which  was 
demonstrated  in  quicker  time  than  young  Sealy  had  expected, 
for  the  words  were  scarcely  uttered  before  Dan  had  left  his  im 
pression  so  strong  upon  his  young  opponent  that  he  needed  no 
other  reminder .  than  the  repeated  volleys  of  blows  that  were 
rapidly  implanted  upon  his  personality  by  the  sturdy  fists  of  little 
Dan  Rice,  which  quickly  brought  him  to  terms.  The  judges 
ruled  him  off  the  course,  and  Dan  won  the  other  heats,  and  the 
race,  of  course,  was  placed  to  his  credit.  George  Sealy,  until  re 
cently,  kept  a  stable  in  Baltimore,  and  he  and  Mr.  Rice  became 
very  good  friends  in  after  years.  The  great  good  nature  of  Mr. 
Rice  is  proverbial,  and  it  was  never  possible  for  him,  in  his  youth 
ful  days,  to  hold  malice  or  entertain  the  slightest  degree  of  ani 
mosity  for  any  length  of  time,  and  he  invariably  showed  a  spirit 
of  inclination  to  settle  all  difficulties  on  short  notice  with  his 
young  foes,  as  numerous  ones  have  readily  testified  in  later  years. 
With  the  winning  of  this  notable  race  ended  also  his  engagement 
with  Goram,  and  Dan  bade  his  old  companion,  Dusty  Foot,  a  last 
farewell.  They  had  shared  the  honors  of  the  turf  together,  and 
Dan's  love  for  the  equestrian  art  had  been  perfected  in  a  great 
degree  by  the  fine  control  he  had  gained  over  the  spirited  nature 
of  Dusty  Foot,  whose  intelligent  instinct  so  obediently  complied 
with  the  artistic  manoeuvres  of  the  equally  spirited  boy  in  the 
saddle;  thus  the  mutual  attachment  ended,  Dusty  Foot  to  pass 
into  the  care  of  another  rider  and  young  Dan  Rice  to  seek  a 
higher  position  in  his  vocation.  With  his  reputation  as  a  rider 
still  increasing  with  the  better  class  of  turfmen,  he  next  formed 
an  engagement  with  Dr.  McDowell  and  Dr.  Addison,  of  Pitts- 
burg,  to  exercise  their  horses  and  to  winter  them  under  his  own 
regime  until  the  following  spring,  but  he  soon  found  that  the 
racing  qualities  they  possessed  would  never  make  them  successes 
in  the  racing  world,  so  he  pronounced  them  failures,  as  they  ulti 
mately  proved  to  be.  From  there  he  next  formed  an  engagement 
at  the  Shakespeare  Gardens,  owned  by  James  Wilson,  a  sporting 
man  of  East  Liberty,  near  Pittsburg,  who  was  also  half  owner  of 


36  KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

the  thoroughbred  racer  Aroostook,  in  conjunction  with  Tom  Wal 
lace,  another  sporting  character.  Mr.  Wallace,  who  was  passion 
ately  fond  of  the  races,  was  exceedingly  wealthy,  and  Mr.  Eice 
has  often  since  declared  that  Wallace  was  the  only  member  of  the 
fraternity  that  he  had  ever  known  to  die  possessed  of  ample 
means.  Dan  was  selected  to  attend  Aroostook  to  the  races  at 
Wheeling,  in  West  Virginia,  on  the  occasion  of  the  opening  of  the 
new  track  on  Nimrod  Farm,  built  by  Y.  N.  Oliver,  of  Culpeper 
Courthouse,  Va.  Upon  the  auspicious  two-mile  day,  after  a 
closely  contested  race,  he  won  a  broken  heat,  and  on  the  next  day 
he  rode  a  four-mile  heat  for  Eichard  E.  Johnson,  which  he  also 
won. 

In  those  sporting  days  of  the  olden  time,  when  a  man's  honor 
rested  on  the  words  he  spoke  and  not  on  the  legal  transactions  of 
trickery,  Mr.  Johnson  was  one  of  the  most  prominent  members 
and  interested  patrons  of  the  turf.  He  was  a  Virginian  by  birth 
and  belonged  to  the  old  school,  and  was  as  generous  and  whole- 
souled  a  gentleman  as  ever  placed  foot  in  the  stirrup  or  measured 
the  range  of  a  racer's  speed,  but  alas,  for  the  vicissitudes  of  life, 
and  of  turfmen  of  that  period  in  particular,  some  years  later,  in 
1850,  when  Mr.  Johnson  was  drifting  on  the  stream  of  adversity, 
in  New  Orleans,  Mr.  Eice,  with  a  few  old  friends,  assisted  in  con 
tributing  to  the  support  of  this  waif  of  the  old-time  chivalry. 
After  the  engagement  closed  at  Wheeling,  Dan  went  with  Aroos 
took  to  Louisville,  Ky.,  where  he  was  entered  for  the  four-mile 
race  over  the  Oakland  course,  but  Hugh  Gallagher,  the  trainer, 
advised  the  withdrawal  of  the  horse,  as  he  showed  symptoms 
of  lampas  and  refused  to  take  his  food,  but  those  interested  in 
the  racing  persisted  in  entering  him  for  the  trial,  and  Dan, 
who  was  especially  gifted  with  foresight  in  such  instances, 
apprehending  the  outcome  of  the  result,  advocated  the  train 
er's  advice  and  refused  to  ride.  The  feeling  this  refusal 
engendered  caused  a  breach  of  engagement,  which  was  forth 
with  annulled,  and  another  boy,  Warren  Peabody,  was  pro 
cured  as  rider.  There  were  four  entries  on  this  occasion — Leg 
Treasurer,  owned  by  Jim  Bell,  of  Nashville,  Tenn.;  Wagner, 
owned  by  Campbell  Bros.,  of  Baltimore;  Blacknose,  owned  by 
Colonel  Shy,  of  Kentucky,  and  Aroostook.  On  this  exciting  oc 
casion,  Dan  was  selected  by  Col.  Jim  Shy,  of  Lexington,  to  ride 
his  horse  Blacknose,  which  position  he  accepted  and  won  the 
race,  Aroostook  being  distanced,  as  was  foreseen  by  both  Dan  and 
the  trainer,  so  also  was  the  four-mile  horse  Wagner  that  had 
eclipsed  the  great  Kentucky  favorite,  Gray  Eagle.  After  the 
ending  of  this  series  of  repeated  successes,  our  young  rider  had 
an  inclination  to  leave  the  turf,  as  his  mind  craved  the  advantages 
that  might  lead  him  eventually  into  different  channels  in  which 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  37 

his  talents  could  be  improved  for  better  openings,  so  he  returned 
to  Pittsburg,  his  adopted  home,,  and  had  given  to  him  the  care  of 
Robert  Massingham's  stables  at  the  corner  of  Front  and  Ferry 
Streets  in  that  city.  But  he  was  not  destined  to  remain  here  for 
any  length  of  time,  for  his  reputation  as  a  rider  secured  for  him 
the  position  of  trainer.  He  was,  therefore,  engaged  by  Mr.  Gar 
rison  Jones  to  put  his  horses  in  training  for  the  races  at  the 
Mound  Eacecourse  (the  track  at  the  Ximrod  Farm  having  gone 
into  disuse);  and  he  was  especially  engaged  to  ride  "  Pandora," 
a  four-mile  mare,  and  "  Polly  Piper,"  a  mile-heat  animal,  or 
the  best  three  in  five,  which  he  did  in  three  straight  heats.  These 
horses  were  the  personal  property  of  a  man  named  Victor,  a 
blacksmith  who  lived  in  Wheeling.  He  was  herculean  in  stature, 
as  well  as  in  strength,  for  he  stood  nearly  seven  feet  in  height  and 
was  a  proverbial  tobacco-chewer,  having  his  tobacco  put  up  for 
his  special  use  by  a  man  named  Stogy,  the  inventor  of  a  peculiar 
form  of  cigar  called  the  "  Wheeling  Stogy."  Mr.  Victor  was  in 
the  habit  of  chewing  a  pound  of  tobacco  a  day,  which  proved 
quite  an  item  of  interest  to  the  unfortunate,  crippled  manufac 
turer,  who  reminded  one  of  Uriah  Heep,  that  peculiar  freak  of 
Charles  Dickens'  genius. 

At  the  conclusion  of  the  race  the  excitement  was  very  great, 
especially  among  the  Wheeling  people,  and  Mr.  Victor  was  so 
enthusiastic  that  he  set  Dan  astride  his  shoulders  and  paraded 
him  before  the  grand  stand,  where  the  people  threw  down 
money  to  the  boy  who  brought  the  Wheeling  horse  in  a 
winner. 

From  thence  he  went  to  Marietta,  0.,  where  he  placed  under 
training  Rat  Catcher,  belonging  to  Nat  Bishop,  a  blacksmith; 
Kosciusko,  owned  by  Warren  Wilcox,  a  merchant;  and  Osceola, 
the  property  of  Robert  Johnson,  a  harness  maker.  He  was  lo 
cated  four  miles  below  Marietta,  upon  the  Humphry  Farm,  owned 
and  occupied  by  Mr.  George  Reppert,  a  Pennsylvania  Dutchman, 
who  evinced  a  decided  interest  in  Dan  and  made  him  a  guest  in  his 
own  home.  It  was  while  there  that  he  himself  organized  a  Jockey 
Club,  and  established  a  mile  track,  which  won  considerable  prom 
inence,  and  during  the  summer  of  that  year  he  caused  to  be  con 
structed  a  judges'  and  a  grand  stand,  and  in  the  meantime  matured 
and  trained  horses  for  the  Fall  races,  and  was  also  generally  em 
ployed  in  training  horses  for  persons  living  in  the  surrounding 
country.  The  enterprise  being  quite  a  new  undertaking  in  that 
vicinity,  created  much  excitement  among  the  inhabitants,  and 
the  Fall  meeting  was  registered  to  open  in  October,  after  the 
harvest  season  was  over.  Fortune  seemed  also  to  favor  the  young 
lad  in  a  monetary  way,  for  he  won  every  purse  through  his  su 
perior  knowledge  of  horsemanship.  His  successful  venture  then 


38  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

led  him  to  Parkersburg,  Va.,  to  which  place  he  repaired,  taking 
with  him  Osceola  and  a  four-year-old  roan  colt,  which  he  stabled 
with  a  farmer,  Mr.  Paul  Cook,  near  the  racecourse. 

Something  in  the  boy's  nature  acted  like  magic  on  the  sensi 
bilities  of  those  with  whom  he  came  in  contact,  for  he  had  the 
happy  faculty  of  meeting  with  people  who,  though  representing 
every  strata  of  society,  never  failed  to  treat  him  in  the  kindliest 
manner  possible.  There  was  ever  an  air  of  mystery  about  the 
lad,  who  carefully  guarded  the  knowledge  of  his  ancestral  identity 
from  the  curious,  and  never  to  his  most  interested  patrons  on  the 
turf  did  he  become  confidential  to  that  degree  to  give  them  his 
family  name.  Some  innate  individuality  apparently  forbade 
connecting  that  sacred  tie  to  the  vocation  he  followed,  and  many 
worthy  patrons  respected  the  sealed  secret  of  his  life  on  the  race 
course,  and  called  him  merely  Dan-the-race-rider,  or  invented 
some  nom-de-plume  that  suited  the  occasion.  Thus  the  happy 
boy  met  his  hosts  of  friends  on  equal  footing.  It  was  at  Parkers- 
burg  that  Dan  became  acquainted  with  three  fine  gentlemen  who 
were  prominent  throughout  the  State,  and  these  well-known  men 
were  Mr.  Mote  Holliday,  General  Maybury,  and  General  Jack 
son,  all  of  wrhom  were  enthusiastic  lovers  of  the  turf.  So  devoted 
was  General  Maybury  to  the  sports  of  the  course  that  he  never 
failed  to  give  the  racing  his  full  attention  when  the  season  was  in 
progress,  and  it  was  at  the  races  he  died  many  years  after,  at  the 
advanced  age  of  eighty,  while  sitting  in  his  carriage  and  witness 
ing  the  performance  of  a  specially  interesting  contest.  These 
gentlemen  were  all  thoroughbred  Virginians  of  the  old  school, 
and  General  Jackson  was  an  earnest  Presbyterian  church  digni 
tary  and  the  soul  of  honor,  as  indeed  they  all  were,  including  Mr. 
Cook,  who  was  famous  for  his  superior  hospitality.  At  the  con 
clusion  of  the  exciting  experiences  that  followed  in  the  course  of 
events  at  the  Fall  meeting  in  Parkersburg,  Dan  returned  to  the 
Reppert  Farm  near  Marietta,  where  he  spent  an  enjoyable  winter 
after  delivering  the  horses  to  their  respective  destinations  and  bal 
ancing  the  accounts  of  the  season.  Life  at  the  farm  was  one  con 
tinual  round  of  enjoyment  peculiar  to  the  inhabitants  of  that 
locality  in  those  early,  hospitable  times,  when  a  man's  character 
was  measured  by  the  traits  he  exhibited  and  not  by  the  length  of 
the  purse  he  carried.  Ample  means  are  always  essential  bless 
ings,  buHt  did  not,  at  that  time,  follow  that  they  were  absolutely 
necessary  in  order  to  contract  friendships  on  an  equal  basis,  so 
young  Dan  Rice  was  welcomed  among  these  superior  people  for 
the  real  true  worth  that  beamed  in  his  great  good  nature.  A 
young  grandson  of  Mr.  Reppert's  made  his  home  at  the  farm, 
and,  although  an  older  lad,  a  strong  friendship  was  formed  be 
tween  the  two  boys,  who  were  brimful  to  overflowing  with  fun  and 


Situated   on  St.   Charles  street 

Between  Poydras  st-  &  Commercial  Place, 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  39 

frolic,  and  it  was  a  difficult  task  to  undertake  to  draw  the  line 
of  comparison  between  these  mischievous  youngsters,  who  often 
brought  good  Grandmother  Reppert  to  her  wit's  end  to  parry  their 
assaults  in  the  household.  The  grandson,  George  Barclay,  was 
a  fearless  fox  hunter,  and  in  initiating  our  young  hero  into  the 
mysteries  of  the  hunt,  it  is  a  well-known  joke  handed  down  to  the 
later  generations  that  Dan  Rice  was  so  profoundly  engrossed  with 
bringing  out  the  speed  of  the  horse  he  rode  that  he  entirely  forgot 
the  game  young  Barclay  was  routing,  and,  through  force  of  habit, 
made  a  wild  dash  for  the  supposed  homestretch,  which  drove 
frisky  Reynard  to  safe  cover.  Young  Barclay  afterwards  located 
in  California,  where  he  became  well  known  in  the  seafaring  world 
as  Capt.  George  Barclay,  and  was  the  first  seaman  to  navigate 
a  steamboat  from  San  Francisco  to  Sacramento.  The  Reppert 
family  was  notably  a  large  one,  and  its  connections  being  exten 
sive,  the  kinsmen  are  now  scattered  in  various  walks  of  life,  be 
coming  prominent  in  many  instances  and  preserving  the  integrity 
of  the  family  name  by  the  same  honest  principles  that  have  been 
bequeathed  by  an  untarnished  ancestry.  It  was  under  the  in 
fluence  of  such  worthy  people  that  Mr.  Rice  spent  a  few  nappy 
months,  the  memories  of  which  have  lingered  through  a  long, 
busy  career.  At  that  time  his  boy  life  was  just  verging  on  the 
threshold  of  early  manhood,  and  the  careful  counsel  of  Grand 
father  Reppert  was  good  seed  sown  in  his  young  heart,  that  has 
ripened  in  his  matured  years,  long  after  the  good  old  gentleman 
has  passed  to  a  condition  that  lives  only  in  memory.  The  ster 
ling  reputation  of  Mr.  Reppert  gained  him  many  friends  of  solid 
worth  and  character,  and  he  was  also  identified  as  a  partner 
of  the  distinguished  statesman,  Albert  Gallatin,  in  establishing 
the  first  glassworks  west  of  the  Alleghany  Mountains,  on  the 
Monongahela  River. 

One  anecdote  of  Mr.  Rice's  life  at  the  Reppert  Farm  is  worth 
preserving,  for  it  carries  us  back  to  the  regime  of  olden  time,  and 
also  demonstrates  some  of  the  mischievous  propensities  reigning 
uppermost  in  the  happy  nature  of  Dan  Rice.  It  happened  on  the 
occasion  of  Miss  Annie  Reppert's  marriage  to  her  cousin  Jacob,  of 
the  same  family  name.  There  was  a  large  assemblage  of  the  elite 
of  Marietta,  and  the  company  also  included  representatives  from 
the  families  of  the  surrounding  country  farmers.  Mother  Rep 
pert's  skill  as  a  housewife  was  actively  put  to  the  test,  and  on 
the  gala  day  in  question  the  great  table  in  the  dining-room  of 
the  rambling  old  farmhouse  fairly  groaned  with  its  weight  of 
choice  viands,  prepared  by  loving  hands  to  grace  the  auspicious 
occasion,  and  many  of  the  old  German  dishes  were  compounded 
from  recipes  brought  from  the  Fatherland,  and  had  been  handed 
down  through  the  previous  generations.  The  festivities  were  a 


40  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

source  of  great  merriment  to  the  younger  members  of  the  family, 
and  perhaps  no  two  of  them  enjoyed  it  more  hugely  than  did 
young  George  Barclay  and  Dan  Rice,  for  they  brought  all  their 
mischief  into  full  play,  reserving  the  climax  until  the  marriage 
ceremony  was  ended.  While  the  newly  wedded  pair  were  receiv 
ing  the  congratulations,  the  piercing  cry  of  "  Murder "  was 
heard  coming  from  the  front  porch,  and  the  entire  company 
rushed  in  undignified  confusion  to  the  scene  of  the  tragedy,  to 
behold  a  poor  victim  with  face  and  hands  streaming  with  gore 
and  the  features  gruesomely  distorted  out  of  all  semblance  of  his 
former  self.  The  wedding  festivities  were  totally  forgotten  by 
this  unfortunate  disaster,  and  all  thoughts  were  turned  to  the 
victim.  Investigation  was  made  in  great  haste  to  learn  the  ex 
tent  of  the  injuries  he  had  received,  when  the  applications  re 
vealed  the  fact  that  mischievous  Dan  Rice  was  covered  with  the 
juicy  contents  of  a  huge  cherry  pie  which  young  Barclay  had 
thrown  at  him  designedly  to  create  the  sensation.  The  plot  was 
betrayed  by  the  smiling  look  of  unconcern  with  which  each 
youngster  greeted  the  vast  assemblage  of  invited  gusts,  who  were 
truly  grateful  that  it  was  only  a  "cherry-pie  tragedy."  And 
dear  old  Mother  Reppert  was  forced  to  emphasize  in  her  broken 
German,  "  Oh,  mein  Gott,  mein  Gott,  Dan,  you  be  such  a  teufel!  " 


CHAPTER    VI. 

YOUNG  RICE'S  FIRST  MEETING  WITH  THE  DISTINGUISHED  HENRY 
CLAY — THE  WRECK  OF  THE  "  MOSELLE  " — EXPLOSION  OF  THE 
BOILER  ON  THE  STEAMBOAT  ON  WHICH  RICE  AND  HIS  RACE 
HORSE  WERE  PASSENGERS — THEIR  MIRACULOUS  ESCAPE — 
YOUNG  RICE  AS  A  POSTAL  OFFICER. — BUNCH  O^BONES 
— ABRAHAM  LINCOLN  JUDGE  IN  A  QUARTER  RACE — WHY 
YOUNG  RICE  WITHDREW  FROM  THE  TURF. 

WHILE  the  party  were  at  Pittsburg  the  previous  winter,  Mr. 
William  Hughes,  a  celebrated  sporting  character  of  that 
day,  having  heard  of  Dan's  superior  skill  with  the  racers  of  the 
turf,  formed  a  contract  with  Mr.  Goram  for  the  lad's  services 
to  ride  his  four-mile  horse,  "John  Clifton,"  at  the  Louisville 
races.  Accordingly  at  the  opening  of  the  season  the  boy  started 
with  the  horse  from  Moundville,  taking  passage  at  that  place  in 
a  light-draft  stern-wheel  boat,  with  two  barges  in  tow, loaded  with 
emigrants.  The  water  being  low,  the  steamer  necessarily  ran 
very  slow,  and  there  was  plenty  of  time  to  devote  to  amusement. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

Among  the  passengers  on  the  boat  was  the  distinguished  Senator, 
Henry  Clay,  who  was  on  his  way  to  his  home  in  Lexington,  Ky. 
Mr.  Clay,  with  his  genial  good  nature,  indulged  in  the  pastimes 
of  the  voyage,  and  on  one  occasion  he  walked  down  to  the  deck 
of  one  of  the  barges  where  some  of  the  people  were  dancing.  He 
was  accompanied  by  Dan,  whose  acquaintance  he  had  formed  by 
noticing  the  lad  who  had  in  his  charge  the  racer,  and  together 
they  watched  the  performances  of  the  emigrants.  "Can  you  dance, 
Dan?  "  asked  the  Senator  of  the  young  rider.  "  Not  those  Ger 
man  dances,  sir,"  he  replied,  "  but  I  can  do  a  jig  or  reel."  "  Well, 
then,"  said  Mr.  Clay,  "  let  me  see  if  I  can't  play  something  for 
you,"  and  suiting  the  action  to  the  word,  he  borrowed  a  violin  and 
played  the  air  "  Money  Musk,"  which  was  at  that  time  very  popu 
lar,  to  which  Dan  danced  an  encore.  He  has  since  said,  that 
of  all  the  tunes  to  which  he  ever  danced,  that  one  of  "  Money 
Musk  "  seemed  to  him  the  longest.  Arriving  at  Cincinnati,  Mr. 
Hughes  met  Dan  at  the  levee,  and  transferred  him  and  the  horse 
to  the  steamboat "  Moselle,"  plying  between  Cincinnati,  Louisville, 
and  St.  Louis.  She  was  nearly  new  and  was  regarded  by  many  as 
the  fastest  boat  upon  the  river.  Dan  took  his  horse,  John  Clif 
ton,  aboard  and  located  him  on  the  extreme  stern  of  the  boat  on 
the  larboard  guard.  This  was  upon  April  26,  1838,  a  day  mem 
orable  for  years  afterwards  to  the  people  of  Cincinnati.  The 
captain,  whose  name  was  Perkins,  after  taking  freight  and  pas 
sengers  at  the  Cincinnati  wharf,  steamed  up  the  river  a  mile  and 
a  half  to  the  village  of  Fulton  for  a  family  that  had  engaged  pas 
sage.  Another  Louisville  boat  had  started  ahead,  and  while 
waiting  for  his  Fulton  passengers  to  embark  he  tied  the  "Moselle" 
to  a  lumber  raft,  still  keeping  up  a  head  of  steam.  This  was  a 
dangerous  proceeding,  as  the  Evans  safety  guard  to  prevent  the 
explosion  of  steam  boilers  had  not  yet  been  introduced,  but  he 
was  anxious  in  passing  the  city  to  exhibit  the  speed  of  his  boat 
as  well  as  to  pass  his  rival  and  reach  Louisville  first.  After  the  Ful 
ton  part  went  on  board,  the  "  Moselle  "  cast  off  and  commenced 
her  journey.  At  that  moment  a  man  who  had  seen  the  steam 
gauge,  rushed  through  the  engine  room  to  the  stern  of  the  boat 
shouting  loudly,  "  By  G — d,  this  boat  is  going  to  blow  up!  "  and 
then  sprang  into  the  river  on  the  shore  side.  Dan,  with  his  im 
pulsive  nature,  at  once  became  excited,  and,  unfastening  the 
horse,  succeeded  in  forcing  him  overboard,  and  quick  as  thought 
sprang  in  after  him.  There  were  several  panic-stricken  passen 
gers  on  deck,  who,  having  heard  the  man's  wild  shout  of  alarm, 
also  did  likewise,  but  Dan  had  scarcely  time  to  mount  the  horse 
before  the  boiler  burst  and  there  was  an  explosion  which  rever 
berated  like  a  clap  of  thunder  from  the  surrounding  hills.  It 
was  a  wild  and  terrible  scene  and  indescribable  in  its  dire  results, 


42  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

but  Dan  managed  to  preserve  his  presence  of  mind  and  directed 
the  horse  towards  the  Kentucky  shore  opposite,  avoiding  as  best 
he  could  the  flying  fragments  around  and  about  him,  while  the 
heart-rending  cries  of  the  perishing  passengers  and  crew  smote 
painfully  on  his  ear.  Still  the  boy  persevered  in  guiding  the 
racer  in  this  struggle  for  life,  and,  by  almost  a  miracle,  he  and 
the  horse  made  the  shore  in  safety,  landing  in  Covington,  which 
was  at  that  time  merely  a  village.  After  the  explosion,  what  re 
mained  of  the  "Moselle"  drifted  a  short  distance  down  the  stream 
and  sank,  and  the  placid  waters  of  the  Ohio  held  in  her  bosom 
the  secret  of  the  terrible  tragedy.  With  the  exception  of  the 
few  passengers  who  were  in  the  ladies'  cabin  and  those  who,  like 
Dan,  had  taken  to  the  water  prior  to  the  explosion,  all  were  killed 
outright  or  so  fearfully  scalded  that  they  died  shortly  afterward. 
The  exact  number  has  never  been  ascertained,  but  it  was  esti 
mated  that  at  least  two  hundred  were  victims  to  the  captain's 
criminal  and  insane  ambition  to  outrace  any  boat  upon  the  river. 
After  experiencing  these  harrowing  events,  Dan  remained  with 
the  horse  that  night  at  Covington,  and  started  for  Louisville  by 
land  the  next  morning.  It  was  impossible  for  him  to  communicate 
with  Hughes,  the  owner  of  the  horse,  and  that  individual  know 
ing  of  the  accident,  supposed  that  both  the  boy  and  horse  had 
perished  in  the  general  calamity.  Nor  did  he  suspect  otherwise 
until  a  few  days  afterwards  when  he  went  to  Louisville,  he  dis 
covered  our  indomitable  hero  exercising  the  horse  upon  the  Oak 
land  course.  To  say  that  Hughes  was  astonished  expresses  the 
situation  but  mildly;  he  was  as  much  amazed  as  if  he  had  wit 
nessed  the  resurrection  of  horse  and  rider  from  the  tomb.  Mr. 
Rice  has  since  remarked  in  his  quaint  way  that  he  never  was 
quite  certain  as  to  which  of  the  two  Mr.  Hughes  was  most  pleased 
to  behold,  himself  or  the  thoroughbred;  but  he  gave  Mr.  Hughes 
the  benefit  of  the  doubt  out  of  charity,  for  he  proclaimed  young 
Rice's  presence  of  mind  and  successful  effort  in  the  rescue  of  the 
horse  throughout  the  sporting  circle  of  Louisville,  until  our  hero 
became  indeed  the  hero  of  the  hour.  It  is  to  be  regretted  that 
the  horse  was  not  destined  to  win  the  race  after  passing  through 
such  trying  difficulties,  for  it  would  have  been  a  triumphant 
climax  to  the  fame  of  the  boy  who  rode  him.  But  in  forcing  him 
over  the  side  of  the  boat  into  the  river  and  in  swimming  the  Ohio, 
the  animal  had  been  strained,  and  at  the  time  of  the  race  had  not 
sufficiently  recovered  from  the  ordeal  to  win  out.  But  it  was 
admitted  that  it  was  not  through  Dan's  mismanagement  that  the 
unfortunate  results  followed. 

At  the  conclusion  of  the  race  that  proved  so  unsatisfactory  on 
account  of  the  accident  to  the  racer,  young  Rice  made  prepara 
tions  to  return  to  Mr.  Goram  at  Charleston  and  conclude  the  pro- 


KEMINISCEXCES    OF    DAN    KICE  43 

gram  at  that  place,  but  decided  to  stop  at  Marietta  on  his  return 
journey  and  visit  his  old  friends  at  the  Eeppert  farm.  He  had 
been  there  but  a  short  time  when  he  received  word  to  come 
directly  to  Moundville,  as  Colonel  Jones,  his  guardian,  was  very 
ill  and  supposed  to  be  dying.  He  made  haste  to  obey  the  sum 
mons,  but  as  the  steamboat  was  delayed  on  account  of  low  water, 
he  arrived  only  in  time  to  attend  the  funeral  of  the  kind-hearted 
man  who  had  proved  such  a  true  friend  to  the  young  boy  under 
his  charge.  After  a  few  days  Mrs.  Jones  informed  Dan  that  her 
husband  had,  before  his  illness,  formed  an  engagement  for  him 
with  Capt.  Tom  Moore,  of  Wheeling,  to  ride  in  St.  Louis,  at  the 
Fall  meeting,  that  gentleman's  four-mile  mare,  "  Karina."  He, 
therefore,  prepared  himself  and  accompanied  Captain  Moore  with 
the  animal  to  St.  Louis,  but  the  race  was  not  successful,  as  the 
mare  broke  down  in  her  forelegs  in  the  second  heat,  after  winning 
the  first.  However,  Dan  received  one  hundred  dollars  for  his 
services  according  to  contract,  which,  in  a  measure,  proved  some 
compensation  to  the  ambitious  lad,  who  earnestly  sought  to  give 
satisfaction  in  every  instance  that  followed  in  his  vocation. 

At  the  close  of  the  racing  season,  Mr.  Stickney^  one  of  the  post- 
office  officials  at  St.  Louis,  who  was  afterwards  a  well-known 
landlord  of  the  Planters'  House,  engaged  young  Eice  for  a  special 
mission,  which  consisted  of  taking  the  official  papers  and  riding 
cross  country  to  the  mouth  of  the  Illinois  River  and  establish 
ing  post-offices  as  directed  by  the  government  on  the  way.  In 
those  days  every  one  ran  quarter  horses  all  in  the  western  coun 
try,  a  sport  that  seemed  to  be  the  prevailing  pastime  for  several 
decades.  At  these  races  young  Eice,  who  was  passionately  fond  of 
athletics,  became  an  active  student  of  gymnastic  exercises,  in  the 
science  of  which  he  became  very  expert  and  displayed  superior 
skill,  employing  the  same  untiring  energy  that  had  ever  marked 
his  career  upon  the  turf.  He  was  at  this  period  only  seventeen 
years  of  age,  but  was  always  prepared  to  banter  the  field  in  a  foot 
race,  wrestling  match,  jumping,  or  throwing  the  sledge,  and  so 
well  were  his  powers  known,  that  seldom  was  there  found  a  con 
testant  hardy  enough  to  accept  the  challenge,  or  if  accepted,  vig 
orous  enough  to  escape  defeat.  He  accepted  a  match  with  Dick 
Bradt,  the  celebrated  western  footracer,  at  the  little  hamlet  of 
Bethel,  near  Springfield,  111.,  in  which  he  exhibited  the  same 
spirit  that  characterized  every  sport  in  which  he  -participated. 
In  the  course  of  these  foot  races,  in  connection  with  John  Ethel, 
who  afterward  became  a  lead  miner  at  Galena,  young  Eice  as 
sumed  control  of  "Bunch  O'Bones,"  a  quarter-horse  that  had 
never  been  beaten.  Bunch  O'Bones  had  become  comparatively 
unprofitable,  as  he  was  invariably  "  expected  "  in  all  the  quarter- 
mile  races.  Young  Eice,  being  always  possessed  of  the  one  am- 


44  KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    BICE 

bition  to  rise  to  a  different  condition,  applied  himself  to  get  the 
horse  in  order  with  a  view  to  enlarge  his  sphere  of  action  in  a 
trip  through  Kentucky,  Ohio,  and  Virginia. 

An  amateur  of  the  turf  called  Tom  Whiton,  a  well-known  Ohio 
Eiver  pilot,  of  Marietta,  was  also  connected  with  the  fraternity 
when  not  following  his  legitimate  vocation.  Having,  in  com 
mon  with  the  great  sporting  gentry,  heard  often  of  Bunch 
O'Bones,  and  knowing — so  profound  was  his  owner's  confidence  in 
him,  that  a  horse  that  could  beat  him  would  "  win  his  pile,"  pro 
cured  "  Hotspur,"  a  quarter-horse  in  Virginia  who  he  was  willing 
to  put  against  the  combined  forces  of  racers.  His  previous  suc 
cesses  induced  Mr.  Whiton  to  bring  his  stable  to  St.  Louis  to  at 
tend  the  Fall  races  there,  and  feeling  fortified  to  meet  young  Eice 
in  his  venture,  he  then  proceeded  to  Bethel,  where  a  match  was 
soon  arranged  between  Hotspur  and  Bunch  O'Bones. 

Quite  an  excitement  was  created  in  the  country  around,  and 
Whiton  laughed  at  the  sly  hints  of  sympathy,  that  he,  a  com 
parative  amateur  in  the  business,  should  risk  a  match  with  Bunch 
O'Bones,  notoriously  the  fastest  horse  in  the  State,  and  con 
gratulated  himself  that  Dan  did  not  suspect  that  Hotspur  was 
an  assumed  name  covering  a  steed  that  had  won  so  many  hardly- 
contested  laurels.  Young  Eice  felt  some  misgivings  in  regard  to 
the  coming  race,  although  the  match  was  only  for  fifty  dollars  a 
side,  and  either  party  would  have  sacrificed  the  whole  amount  of 
the  purse  to  have  known  to  a  certainty  which  horse  would  win, 
and  both  young  men  probably  resolved  in  their  minds  how  this 
information  could  be  obtained  without  the  knowledge  of  the 
other.  Three  days  before  the  race,  Dan  was  greatly  surprised 
that  Whiton,  with  whom  he  had  a  trivial  misunderstanding  the 
year  before  at  Wheeling,  was  now  unusually  courteous  and  urgent 
in  his  invitations  to  a  chat  and  a  social  glass  at  Case's  Tavern, 
but  his  surprise  was  changed  to  suspicion  when  he  overheard  a 
groom  whisper  to  Whiton,  "  At  this  rate  you'll  never  get  Eice 
drunk  enough  to  open  the  stable." 

Then  it  was  that  he  understood  their  object.  Their  pretended 
friendship  was  a  conspiracy  to  get  Bunch  O'Bones  out  of  the 
stable  to  run  a  trial  race.  The  suspicious  remark  which  he  ac- 
cidently  overheard  caused  young  Eice  to  change  his  methods  and 
feign  to  be  gradually  overcome  by  deep  potations,  and  finally  to 
lose  all  control  over  himself.  He  successfully  managed  his  part 
in  the  play  and  soon  appeared  so  nearly  overcome  with  sleep  as 
to  require  to  be  shaken  vigorously.  Another  glass  of  the  bever 
age  was  mixed,  and  shortly  after  the  owner  of  Hotspur  and  the 
groom  kindly  assisted  him  to  his  room  and  put  him  to  bed  to 
sleep  off  the  effects  of  dissipation.  No  sooner,  however,  did  Dan 
hear  their  retreating  footsteps,  than  he  quickly  arose,  prepared 


BEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    EICE  45 

himself,  and,,  running  swiftly  to  the  rear  of  the  barn,  he  effected 
an  entrance  to  the  back  of  the  stable,  and  changed  Bunch  O'Bones 
from  the  front  stall  to  the  back  stall,  putting  in  Bunch  O'Bones7 
place  another  quarter-horse,  Gamut,  owned  by  a  friend  who  ac 
companied  him  on  the  journey  speculatively,  which  horse  re 
sembled  Bunch  O'Bones  so  closely  that  any  one  who  had  seen  the 
latter  only  twice,  as  Hotspur's  owner  had,  would  not  be  likely  to 
detect  the  change,  especially  at  night.  This  change  being  made, 
he  secreted  himself  in  the  hay-mow  overhead,  first  making  a  pas 
sageway  through  which  he  could  see  into  the  stable  below. 
Young  Eice  had  only  time  enough  to  accomplish  this  change  of 
horses  and  prepare  his  place  to  watch  the  proceedings,  for  almost 
as  soon  as  this  was  effected,  he  heard  the  staple  forced  out  of  the 
locked  door  and  Whiton  and  the  groom  entered  stealthily.  It 
was  the  work  of  a  moment  to  take  out  Gamut  and  proceed  to  a 
level  lane,  where  they  were  followed  by  Dan,  who,  by  scaling  the 
garden  fence  in  the  rear  and  keeping  the  shadows,  arrived  unseen 
on  the  field  of  action  as  soon  as  they.  Hotspur  soon  followed 
Gamut  in  the  hands  of  the  groom  and  Dan  had  the  great  satis 
faction  of  seeing  Hotspur,  after  a  hardly-fought  trial  of  speed, 
come  out  ahead  of  Gamut  about  one  length,  which  Hotspur's  rider 
declared  could  be  increased  a  length  more  on  the  day  of  the  race. 
Contented  with  what  he  had  learned,  Dan  returned  to  the  stable 
and  soon  found  an  opportunity  to  exchange  the  horses  to  their 
respective  stalls,  after  which  he  hastened  to  his  room  without 
being  detected,  greatly  relieved  in  mind  and  with  a  fund  of  spirits 
the  next  morning  that  failed  to  conceal  an  affectation  of  head 
ache  and  drowsiness.  He  was  satisfied  that  Bunch  O'Bones  could 
beat  Gamut  three  lengths  easily,  and,  of  course,  was  good  for  two 
with  Hotspur.  From  that  time  on  each  side  was  confident,  and 
Dan  took  every  bet  that  was  offered,  advising  his  friends  that  he 
had  the  "  deadwood  "  on  it.  Each  party  was  in  such  good  humor 
with  himself  on  the  day  of  the  race  that  no  trouble  was  had  about 
preliminaries.  Dan  rode  Bunch  O'Bones  and  the  same  rider  that 
rode  him  on  the  night  escapade  mounted  Hotspur.  Both  started 
off  in  the  finest  style  of  action,  but  to  the  unspeakable  mortifica 
tion  of  Hotspur's  owner  and  the  consternation  of  his  rider,  Bunch 
O'Bones  slowly  but  surely  forged  to  the  front,  coming  in  first 
just  by  a  nose  as  was  decided  by  the  judge  amid  the  hoots  and 
jeers  of  the  natives.  But  all  opposition  to  his  decision  was  soon 
quelled  by  the  judge  himself,  whose  standing  in  the  community 
was  very  high,  and  furthermore  the  judge  had  gone  so  far  as  to 
wager  a  dollar  or  two  himself  on  Hotspur,  who  was  the  neighbor 
hood's  favorite. 

Now  comes  one  of  the  most  extraordinary  incidents  in  the 
story.     This  judge  was  a  gawky  young  Illinois  lawyer  named 


46  [REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

Abraham  Lincoln,  who  held  all  the  bets  made  on  the  race,  and 
handed  them  over  to  the  winners.  He  had  stopped  overnight  at 
Bethel  on  his  circuit  from  Springfield  to  Jacksonville,  111.,  and 
had  been  selected  to  act  as  stakeholder.  His  fellow-citizens  were 
quite  indignant  at  his  decision  in  Rice's  favor,  for  they  had  lost 
every  bet,  and  their  exchequers  were  exhausted.  But  when  he  was 
President,  Mr.  Lincoln  and  Mr.  Rice  enjoyed  many  hearty  laughs 
over  Bunch  O'Bones'  victory. 

Having  successfully  fulfilled  his  mission  with  Mr.  Stickney, 
young  Rice  returned  to  St.  Louis,  and  after  having  sold  the  horse 
to  Bob  O'Blennis,  a  well-known  character  of  that  city,  for  a  large 
sum,  he  gave  up  his  projected  tour  to  the  South,  and  finally  re 
tired  from  the  turf  to  follow  inclinations  that  eventually  led  him 
into  a  different  calling. 


CHAPTER   VII. 

MR.  RICE'S  DEBUT  ON  THE  STAGE — HE  MEETS  THE  ORIGINAL 
FAKIR  OF  AVA — HIS  ROLE  AS  DEMON  OF  THE  FIERY 
FOREST — WINNING  A  STEAMBOAT  FROM  ITS  CAPTAIN — 
HIGH  WAGES  WHILE  A  COACHMAN  AT  THE  ALLEGHANY 
ARSENAL — A  NARROW  ESCAPE  IN  ASSUMING  THE  RdLE  OF 
GHOST — DANCES  THE  CAMPTOWN  HORNPIPE  AT  THE  NICH- 
OLLS'  CIRCUS  IN  PITTSBURG — YOUNG  RICE'S  FIRST  MEET 
ING  WITH  SECRETARIES  RUSK  AND  WINDOM  IN  EARLY 
DAYS. 

ON  young  Dan  Rice's  retirement  from  the  turf  in  the  autumn 
of  1839,  and  on  his  return  to  St.  Louis  in  December,  fate 
had  prepared  for  him  a  dramatic  debut  of  which  he  was  not  slow 
to  take  advantage.  He  had  reported  to  Mr.  Stickney  the  result 
of  his  post-office  mission,  and  while  cogitating  on  the  advisability 
of  returning  to  Pittsburg,  he  visited  several  places  of  amusement, 
one  of  which  was  the  St.  Louis  Museum  on  Market  Street,  where 
he  was  recognized  by  several  amateur  actors.  Among  the  num 
ber  was  Mr.  J.  H.  McVicker,  who  eventually  became  the  father- 
in-law  of  the  renowned  actor,  Edwin  Booth.  This  gentleman 
cordially  greeted  Mr.  Rice  and  introduced  him  to  Professor 
Marshall,  the  manager  of  the  museum,  who  kindly  asked  him  to 
remain  and  attend  the  performance.  After  the  play  was  over, 
Mr.  Rice  invited  a  number  of  his  friends,  among  whom  was  Mr. 
McVicker,  with  whom  he  had  previously  become  acquainted  with 
at  the  races,  to  lunch  with  him,  which  invitation  they  accepted. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  47 

While  they  enjoyed  themselves  in  the  hearty  good-fellowship 
that  usually  attends  such  occasions,  Mr.  McVicker  asked  Mr. 
Rice  to  dance  at  his  benefit  in  negro  character  "  The  Camptowri 
Hornpipe/'  a  very  popular  dance  in  those  days.  This  he  agreed 
to  do  and  the  benefit  took  place  a  few  evenings  afterwards.  Thus 
young  Rice  was  brought  to  the  public  notice  in  a  new  guise  and 
entirely  different  kind  of  business,  and  he  made  a  good  hit,  for 
he  was  encored  several  times.  When  Professor  Marshall,  the 
"  Fakir  of  Ava,"  saw  the  natural  ability  of  the  young  man,  he 
asked  him  to  take  a  small  role  in  a  new  production  about  to  be 
brought  out  at  the  museum. 

"  The  Sleeping  Beauty,  or  the  Demon  of  the  Fiery  Forest/' 
was  to  be  introduced  by  Marshall,  with  a  close  attention  to  thrill 
ing  detail,  and  Mr.  Rice  was  cast  to  play  the  demon,  a  part  more 
conspicuous  in  name  than  in  reality.  Mr.  McVicker  was  cast  for 
the  leading  role,  that  of  the  virtuous  young  hero  whose  aim  it 
was  to  rescue  the  Sleeping  Beauty  from  the  machinations  of  the 
demon.  Mr.  McVicker  was  at  that  time  pursuing  the  business 
of  cabinet-maker,  with  a  strong  leaning  toward  the  theatrical,  and 
which  eventually  became  his  calling  in  life,  as  is  well  known  in 
the  theatrical  world.  The  manager  on  this  particular  occasion 
had  not  been  sparing  of  scenic  effects,  and  when  the  audience  saw 
the  great  snakes,  hideous  dragons,  and  monsters  of  form  and  ges 
ture,  hitherto  undreamed  of,  peering  from  the  foliage  and  among 
the  trees  and  insinuating  their  writhing  folds  across  the  Fiery 
Forest,  there  was  a  distinct  sensation.  Young  Rice,  although 
dressed  in  the  full  garb  of  a  demon,  proved  to  be  the  most  pro 
foundly  scared  mortal  in  the  house.  It  appears  that  he  had  not 
indulged  in  the  pleasure  of  these  adjuncts  at  rehearsals,  therefore, 
as  the  curtain  rose,  he  was  beheld  standing  in  the  midst  of  these 
blazing  horrors,  exceedingly  fierce  in  aspect,  but  oh,  so  faint  at 
heart  at  sight  of  these  goblins  doomed,  that  he  suddenly  ran  off 
the  stage  with  his  tail  between  his  legs,  and  stood  cowering  in  the 
wings.  The  audience,  recognizing  Dan  Rice  and  his  genuine 
stage  fright,  roared  out  its  encouragement  of  security. 

"  Get  back  there  and  take  the  centre  of  the  stage!  "  shouted 
McVicker,  striding  on  in  full  heroics,  prepared  to  rescue  the 
Sleeping  Beauty,  who  was  apparently  resting  on  a  mossy  bank. 
But  young  Rice  had  already  recovered  his  presence  of  mind.  An 
noyed  at  McVicker's  brusque  language,  which  had  ended  with  a 
very  pronounced  aspirate  oath  that  unmistakably  proclaimed  him 
an  idiot,  he  was  not  slow  to  perceive  that  the  cries  of  the  people 
were  giving  him  more  than  his  share  of  prominence  in  the  play. 
So  he  responded  with  pretended  reluctance  to  the  shouts  of  a 
score  or  more  of  his  friends,  and  with  them,  flames  and  all,  de 
liberately  took  the  stage  from  the  enraged  McVicker,  and  the 


48  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

disconsolate,  but  now  wide-awake  Beauty,  shouldered  his  Devil's 
tail  and  "  pitched  into  "  the  "  Camptown  Hornpipe."  This  in 
congruous  interlude  had  a  tendency  to  break  up  the  performance 
that  was  advertised,  the  curtain  dropped  and  the  audience  dis 
persed  screaming  with  laughter. 

It  was  at  this  period  that  gambling  was  the  passion  of  the  day, 
and  the  Mississippi  steamboats  have  been  characterized  as  veri 
table  "  floating  hells  "  on  the  bosom  of  the  "  Father  of  Waters." 
It  is  to  be  regretted  that  this  vocation  was  soon  to  become  more 
than  amusement  to  young  Eice,  for  the  hand  of  fate  seemed  dis 
posed  to  add  also  that  experience  to  the  decree  of  his  destiny. 
After  leaving  St.  Louis,  where  his  unfortunate  debut  as  an  actor 
ended  in  such  a  ludicrous  manner,  he  drifted  into  a  new  channel 
where  circumstances  propelled  him,  and  thought  of  a  life  on  the 
river  as  the  next  step  toward  elevating  himself  to  a  higher  stand 
ard.  With  his  peculiar  aptitude  at  cards,  he  soon  developed  into 
a  professional  that  had  but  few,  if  any,  superiors,  and  in  a  sur 
prisingly  short  time  he  made  regular  preparations  to  lay  siege  to 
the  purse  of  the  travelling  public.  He  procured  a  fireman's  out 
fit  and  shipped  on  the  steamboat  Czar,  a  St.  Louis  and  Pittsburg 
packet,  commanded  by  Capt.  Billy  Forsythe,  a  celebrated  man  on 
the  river  at  that  day,  though  long  since  gone  to  his  reward,  and 
with  all  his  energies  he  launched  into  this  new  undertaking. 
These  preparations  were  to  enable  young  Eice  to  get  a  chance  to 
play  cards  with  the  unfortunate  deck  passengers,  a  regular  fire 
man  meanwhile  working  below  in  that  capacity  in  his  place. 
With  the  same  exhibitions  of  success  following  him  that  had 
marked  his  career  on  the  turf,  he  won  furniture,  horses,  money, 
and,  indeed,  so  much  in  general  of  everything  that  suspicion  was 
aroused  and  he  was  obliged  to  disembark  at  Louisville.  There 
he  again  ventured  on  the  New  Argo,  Captain  Steele  commanding, 
to  go  up  the  Kentucky  Eiver  to  Frankfort,  and  while  on  the  boat 
he  figured  as  a  watchman.  After  donning  his  watchman's  garb 
and  going  on  deck,  he  would  solicit  patronage  and  forthwith 
proceeded  to  win  everything  in  sight,  and  after  playing  on  the 
New  Argo  the  whole  winter,  he  won  the  boat  itself  from  the  cap 
tain;  but  with  the  instinctive  principle  of  justice  that  ruled  him 
in  every  transaction,  he  gave  her  back  to  Captain  Steele  when  he 
left  the  service  at  Frankfort. 

Yearnings  for  a  permanent  location  seemed  to  take  possession 
of  the  young  man  in  the  various  phases  of  his  career,  and  he  was 
naturally  inclined  to  Pittsburg  through  the  force  of  circum 
stances.  His  old-time  boy  friends  were  there  and  also  many 
prominent  persons  who  had  interested  themselves  in  his  welfare 
during  his  racing  days.  So  it  was  to  that  city  that  his  heart  in 
clined,  and  he  left  Frankfort  by  stage-coach  for  Pittsburg,  by  way 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  49 

of  Cincinnati.  The  ruling  propensities  that  governed  him  dur 
ing  the  past  few  months  on  the  river  predominated  during  his 
journey,  and  he  found  willing  victims  to  indulge  in  his  favorite 
winning  games  at  cards  while  en  route  to  Pittsburg.  The  ex 
traordinary  hold  the  passion  for  play  had,  at  that  time,  o-n  the 
American  people  is  shown  in  George  W.  DevoPs  remarkable  work, 
"  Forty  Years  a  Gambler  on  the  Mississippi  River."  It  was  in 
the  spring  of  18-iU  that  young  Eice  arrived  in  Pittsburg,  where  he 
bought  a  third  interest  in  a  livery  stable  at  the  corner  of  Front 
and  Ferry  Streets,  owned  by  an  Englishman  named  Massingham, 
who  has  been  previously  mentioned  and  with  whom  Dan  had 
formerly  associated.  In  the  autumn  of  that  year  he  disposed  of 
his  interest  in  the  stable  and  deposited  his  money  in  the  bank. 
Roddy  Patterson,  an  acquaintance  with  whom  he  had  often  ex 
changed  favors,  was  a  wrell-known  livery-stable  keeper  in  Pitts 
burg.  This  person  knowing  that  young  Rice  was  embracing 
every  opportunity  to  better  his  condition,  one  day  informed  him 
that  Captain  Harding,  the  commander  of  the  Alleghany  Arsenal, 
wanted  a  careful,  experienced  man  to  drive  his  family  carriage. 
"  And  Dan,"  said  Patterson,  "  why  don't  you  go  and  take  the 
job?  "  After  carefully  thinking  over  the  possibilities  that  might 
occur  if  he  should  take  the  position,  he  obtained  a  note  of  intro 
duction  to  Captain  Harding.  He  found  this  gentleman  well 
disposed  toward  him  and  he  was  commissioned  by  the  captain 
to  go  and  see  Mrs.  Harding,  whose  private  apartments  were  lo 
cated  across  the  plateau  in  the  Arsenal  enclosure,  and  assure  her 
as  to  his  capabilities  as  a  driver.  The  commandant's  wife  was 
so  exceedingly  timid  that  the  slightest  display  of  spirit  on  the 
part  of  a  horse  alarmed  her  almost  to  the  verge  of  hysterics.  Cor 
respondingly  great,  therefore,  was  her  husband's  desire  to  secure 
a  driver  with  whom  not  only  he,  but  his  wife  as  well,  might  feel 
the  assurance  of  safety.  In  the  very  beginning,  Mrs.  Harding 
expressed  her  belief  that  Dan  was  too  young  and  forthwith  began 
questioning  him  as  to  his  past  experience.  Young  Rice,  who  did 
not  lack  confidence,  replied  satisfactorily,  until  she  asked  him 
how  near  the  edge  of  a  precipice  he  could  drive  without  tilting 
over.  And  to  this  he  replied  that  he  would  not  try  the  experi 
ment  but  would  keep  as  far  from  it  as  possible.  "  You  will  do," 
the  lady  exclaimed,  and  dismissed  him  with  a  brief  note  to  her 
husband,  who  read  it  with  great  care,  and,  after  a  few  prelimi 
naries,  began  the  final  agreements  as  to  what  salary  he  expected. 
"  Understand,"  said  he,  "  you  will  not  be  expected  to  attend 
to  grooming  the  horses;  all  that  you  will  have  to  do  will  be  to 
mount  the  seat  when  the  carriage  is  brought  out,  and  drive,  and 
upon  your  return  the  groom  will  take  the  horses  back  to  the 
stable.  Now,"  said  the  captain,  "  what  wages  will  you  require?  " 


50  BEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    EICE 

Dan  hesitated  a  moment,  and  then  replied  that  he  thought 
sixty  dollars  a  month  would  be  a  fair  compensation. 

"  Sixty  dollars  a  month,"  echoed  the  captain  in  a  tone  of  as 
tonishment,  "  did  I  hear  aright?  " 

"  You  certainly  did/7  rejoined  Dan,  "  I  said  sixty  dollars  a 
month;  do  you  think  it  too  much?  " 

"  Why,  of  course  I  do,"  replied  the  captain. 

"  Very  well,"  said  Dan,  "  no  harm  is  done,  and  I  wish  you,  sir, 
a  very  good-day." 

But  as  he  was  preparing  to  leave,  the  captain  called  him  back 
and  again  asked  him  if  he  had  not  made  a  mistake  in  his  figures 
and  if  he  did  not  himself  think  them  unreasonably  high. 

"  Well,  sir,"  replied  Dan,  "  they  do  appear  high,  but  they 
are  not  so  for  the  work  I  propose  to  perform.  Now  I  will 
make  a  proposition.  Within  one  month  I  will  engage  that  the 
lady  will  be  taught  to  drive  the  team  herself  without  fear  or 
hesitation,  and  if  I  fail  in  this,  then  I  will  forfeit  a  month's 
salary." 

"  If  you  do  this,"  said  the  captain,  "  I  will  not  grudge  you  the 
sixty  dollars,"  and  the  contract  being  made,  upon  the  following 
Monday  young  Eice  was  duly  installed  in  his  new  and  comfortable 
quarters. 

They  were  decidedly  superior  to  his  apartments  in  the  Massing- 
ham  stable,  and  altogether  it  was  to  him  a  new  life.  He  was 
never  treated  as  a  menial,  but,  except  when  guests  were  invited, 
he  had  his  seat  at  the  table  as  one  of  the  family,  and  could  ho 
have  remained  contented,  his  life  would  have  been  exceedingly 
pleasant.  True  to  his  promise,  a  month  had  not  elapsed  before 
Mrs.  Harding  not  only  mounted  the  seat  of  the  carriage  but 
handled  the  reins  and  drove  the  horses  in  such  a  fearless  way  that 
it  astonished  the  garrison. 

The  Hardings  had  four  children,  three  boys  and  one  girl,  the 
younger  boys,  William  and  Van  Buren,  being  at  home,  and 
Ebenezer,  the  elder,  at  school  at  Carlisle,  Pa.  Mischievous,  high- 
spirited,  fun-loving  youngsters  they  were.  Scarcely  a  night 
would  pass  but  William  and  Van  Buren  were  found  to  have  stolen 
away  from  the  paternal  rooftree.  The  captain  tried  at  first  to 
frighten  them  into  staying  home  at  night  by  the  recital  of  hair- 
raising  and  blood-curdling  ghost  stories,  but  all  to  no  avail.  So, 
one  night,  he  hired  young  Rice  to  play  ghost,  and  the  result  came 
very  near  ending  Dan's  life,  for  William  had  happened  on  that 
occasion  to  sally  forth  with  a  shotgun,  one  commonly  supposed 
by  his  father  to  be  unloaded.  Dan,  swathed  in  sheets,  stood 
boldly  out  in  the  moonlight,  holding  high  over  his  head  a  stout 
wooden  cross,  over  which  a  sheet  was  draped.  On  being  confronted 
with  this  awful  apparition,  Willie  calmly  fired  his  fowling-piece 


BEMINISCEXCES    OF    DAN    KICE  51 

and  the  entire  charge  passed  through  the  sheets  into  the  cross, 
just  above  Dan's  head. 

This  was  one  of  his  first  spectacular  appearances,  but  the  role 
of  ghost  came  very  near  being  his  last. 

The  Harding  family  have  now,  at  this  date,  all  passed  away 
with  the  exception  of  the  daughter,  who  is  the  wife  of  Oliver  T. 
Barnes,  of  ^ew  York,  the  prominent  civil  engineer  who  was  so 
important  a  factor  in  the  survey  of  the  Pennsylvania  Railroad 
lines.  She  is  a  noble  woman,  and  Colonel  Rice  feels  that,  to  the 
refining  influence  of  the  happy  home  in  which  he  knew  her  family 
fifty  years  ago  in  Pittsburg,  he  owes  a  debt  of  lasting  gratitude. 
The  lesson  unconsciously  learned  at  that  time  had  a  wonderful 
effect  upon  his  morals,  for  he  had  arrived  at  that  impressionable 
age  wrhen  life  is  opening  new  avenues  to  the  understanding  and 
creating  desires  of  a  more  exalted  character,  and  the  associations 
of  refinement  and  integrity  met  the  innate  ideal  of  our  young 
hero's  aspirations,  and  the  result  was  more  redeeming  than  the 
Hardings  ever  suspected.  The  family  was  highly  connected,  and 
in  this  home,  where  he  was  more  of  a  friend  and  companion  than 
otherwise,  young  Rice  came  in  contact  with  such  of  the  friends 
and  kinsmen  as  the  Cowens,  Harmon  Denny,  and  the  Robinsons, 
all  of  whom  were  people  of  worth  and  culture.  Mingling  as  he 
did  with  the  Hardings,  brought  him  also  in  friendly  intercourse 
wTith  the  officers  and  subordinates  of  the  garrison,  the  most  of 
whom  were  intelligent,  polished  men,  and  his  native  spirit 
yearned  to  meet  them  on  an  equal  footing.  This  was  an  impos 
sibility  in  the  position  which  he  held,  and  his  proud  nature  felt 
it  most  keenly,  and  notwithstanding  the  kind  and  considerate 
treatment  which  he  received,  he  sighed  for  a  more  active  and  ad 
venturous  career  that  would  elevate  him  to  the  position  he  craved 
among  his  fellow-men.  But  how  to  leave  these  worthy  people  was 
the  question.  He  could  form  no  plausible  excuse,  ancl  then,  in  his 
ignorance  as  to  the  affairs  at  the  Arsenal,  he  thought  that  having 
taken  a  position  there,  he  was  in  the  condition  of  a  soldier,  so 
that  if  he  insisted  upon  going  away  he  might  be  arrested  and 
incarcerated  in  the  Black  Hole,  the  fate  of  more  than  one  de 
serter,  as  had  already  come  under  his  observation.  So  he  pa 
tiently  waited  for  circumstances  to  shape  themselves  as  to  the 
result  of  his  future  action.  He  had  now  been  at  the  Arsenal 
three  months,  and  had  not  drawn  any  of  his  salary,  but  this  was 
to  one  of  his  thoughtless  disposition  a  secondary  consideration. 
At  last  he  made  up  his  mind,  and,  ignoring  his  three  months' 
salary,  left  this  pleasant  home  without  announcing  his  departure, 
and  returning  to  Pittsburg,  took  refuge  in  his  old  apartments 
at  the  Massingham  stable. 

While  waiting  for  a  change  in  the  tide  of  affairs,  by  which 


52  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

he  could  command  a  remuneration  worth  accepting,  he  concluded 
to  go  and  visit  old  friends  in  Marietta  and  also  spend  a  brief 
period  at  the  Keppert  farm,  around  which  previous  associations 
hovered  that  were  dear  to  his  mind  and  heart.  The  young  man 
was  welcomed  with  hearty  cordiality  by  those  warm-hearted 
Germans  who  extended  their  hospitality  as  freely  as  on  other 
occasions,  when  the  racing  business  called  him  in  their  vicinity, 
and  he  occupied  his  old  place  in  their  midst,  while  they  regaled 
themselves  with  rehearsing  past  reminiscences  of  his  fun-loving 
propensities.  Young  Rice's  stay  in  Marietta,  at  this  time,  was 
characterized  by  a  series  of  adventures  that  reminded  him  of 
other  days,  and  eventually  was  the  means  of  forming  new  friend 
ships  that  proved  interesting  as  well  as  lasting. 

In  due  time  he  left  his  old  associates  and  returned  to  Pittsburg; 
that  offered  new  attractions  for  his  vivacious  nature  to  indulge 
in  and  investigate. 

Although  young  Rice  had  left  the  Hardings  without  receiving 
his  salary,  he  was  not  without  money,  for  he  always  had  a  gener 
ous  deposit  in  the  bank,  and  was,  therefore,  secured  in  almost 
any  emergency.  There  was  at  that  time  a  wooden  structure 
erected  on  what  was  known  as  the  Broadhurst  lot,  near  the  canal 
on  Penn  Street,  that  was  used  by  the  showman,  Sam  Nicholls, 
for  an  amphitheatre.  It  was  now  the  winter  season,  and  not 
being  engaged,  young  Rice  was  almost  a  nightly  visitor  to  the 
circus,  for  the  horsemanship  fascinated  him,  and  the  acrobatic 
sports  appealed  to  and  were  a  part  of  his  exuberant  nature,  and 
very  naturally,  being  similarly  constituted,  he  soon  became  ac 
quainted  with  the  performers.  It  was,  in  reality,  a  star  company, 
consisting  of  Caroline  Devine,  who  afterwards  became  Mrs.  James 
M.  Nixon,  Mrs.  Samuel  Nicholls,  Mrs.  Matt  Buckley,  Messrs. 
W.  W.  and  Horace  Nicholls,  Tom  McCollum,  James  M.  Nixon, 
Matt  Buckley,  Monsieur  Guillot,  the  Hercules  and  strongest  man 
of  his  day;  Dave  Harlin,  a  star  rider;  Hamlin,  the  contortionist; 
and  Herr  Kline,  the  famous  tight-rope  performer.  The  clowns 
of  the  company  were  George  Knapp  and  John  May.  Knapp  was 
one  of  the  most  lugubrious  clowns  that  ever  appeared  in  a  motley 
garb,  and  May  afterward  acquired  some  celebrity,  but  unfortu 
nately,  finally  ended  his  days  in  an  insane  asylum. 

Under  the  influence  of  the  exciting  exhibitions,  it  did  not  re 
quire  repeated  persuasion  for  young  Rice  to  be  admitted  behind 
the  scenes,  and  upon  the  occasion  of  a  benefit  taken  by  John  May, 
he  was  induced  to  volunteer  the  ee  Camptown  Hornpipe,"  in 
which,  as  has  been  previously  stated,  he  was  known  to  excel.  On 
this  occasion,  he  was  encored  to  repeat  it  until  he  became  ex 
hausted,  and  then  his  friends  in  the  audience  suggested  a  change 
in  the  programme  and  called  upon  him  to  sing  a  negro  song. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  53 

Young  Eice  tried  to  excuse  himself,  alleging  that  he  knew  but 
one  which  he  did  not  wish  to  repeat,  but  it  was  all  in  vain,  for 
there  was  a  universal  chorus  from  the  audience,  "  Then  give  us 
that  one."  His  innate  modesty  recoiled  from  giving  the  song  in 
question,  which  was  exceedingly  broad,  and  the  last  verse  espe 
cially  would  not  bear  repeating,  but  urged  as  he  was  by  the  con 
course  of  people,  decided  at  last  to  sing  it.  The  mixed  masses 
roared  and  applauded,  but  those  in  the  boxes  testified  their  dis 
approbation  by  turning  their  heads.  This  was  Mr.  Eice's  first 
introduction  in  connection  with  a  circus. 


CHAPTER    VIII. 

YOUNG  RICE'S  SUCCESS  AS  AN  ATHLETE — THE  FIRST  OF  A 
SERIES  OF  PHYSICAL  ENCOUNTERS  WHICH  MADE  DAN 
RICE'S  FAME  WIDESPREAD  THROUGH  THE  COUNTRY — HOW 
"  DEVIL  JACK  "  WAS  TAMED — RICE'S  FIRST  VENTURE  AS 
A  SHOWMAN — HIS  INTEREST  IN  "LORD  BYRON  "  —BY 
WHOM  GEORGE  WASHINGTON'S  NURSE  WAS  FIRST  BROUGHT 
TO  NEW  YORK — SUCCESSFUL  TOUR  OF  THE  "  PIG  SHOW  " 
—A  SENSATIONAL  DISCLOSURE  CONNECTED  WITH  IT — LO 
CALIZING  HIS  FIRST  EXTEMPORE  SONGS. 

A  XOTHEE  era  now  opened  in  the  life  of  Dan  Eice,  in  which 
J_A_  he  felt  an  inclination  to  test  the  possibilities  it  might  have 
in  store  for  him,  so  he  made  every  effort  to  improve  his  mind  and 
prepare  his  physical  capacities  according  to  scientific  regime.  As 
a  beginning  to  those  preparations,  he  commenced  his  first  lessons 
in  gymnastics  with  Monsieur  Guillot,  the  "  Strong  Man  "  of  the 
Nicholls  Circus.  His  whole  life  had  been,  however,  a  continual 
athletic  exercise  and  vigorous  exertion,  no  matter  what  its  im 
mediate  object  may  be,  and  especially  if  indulged  in  the  open 
air,  develops  the  physical  man  to  better  advantage  than  elaborate 
gymnasium  practice  indoors. 

Young  Eice  had,  to  a  great  degree,  lived  out  of  doors  from  the 
time  he  was  three  years  old,  indulging  in  all  the  boyish  sports  that 
characterized  the  pastimes  of  childhood.  As  he  grew  older,  he 
had  his  wrestling  matches  with  boys  of  his  own  circle,  and  in 
running,  jumping,  etc.,  he  excelled  many  of  his  young  friends 
in  powers  of  execution  and  endurance.  These  were  some  of  the 
methods  by  which  his  muscles  were  hardened,  his  sinews  tough 
ened,  and  the  foundation  laid  for  that  astonishing  physical  vigor 
and  endurance  which  surprised  every  contestant  with  whom  he 


54:  KEMINISCENCES    OE    DAN    KICE 

came  in  contact.  Under  Guillot's  instruction  he  evinced  great 
aptitude,  and  his  naturally  robust  frame  was,  by  the  calisthenic 
exercises  through  which  the  French  gentleman  put  him,  con 
verted  into  as  powerful  a  human  machine  as  any  one  of  his  day 
and  generation  ever  saw.  Every  one  who  knew  Rice  was  aware 
that  whenever  he  was  required  to  act  upon  the  defensive,  he 
was  found  equal  to  the  demands  in  every  particular,  for  he  never 
failed  to  punish  an  overt  act,  and  in  doing  so  he  was  generally 
victorious,  and  also  secured  the  good  opinion  of  those  who  wit 
nessed  the  affair,  and  the  opponent  usually  "  buried  the  hatchet " 
afterwards.  In  Bayardstown,  just  across  the  canal  from  Pitts- 
burg,  there  lived  a  notorious  barroom  character  called  by  the 
opprobious  nom-de-plume  "  Devil  Jack,"  who,  having  heard  of 
Dan's  professional  powers,  had  boasted  that  he  would  whip  him 
the  first  time  he  saw  him.  But  he  was  advised  by  John  Paisley 
and  Roger  Jeffries,  two  worthy  young  fellows,  that  it  would  be 
better  to  let  that  matter  alone,  for  he  would  probably  be  defeated 
in  the  attempt.  But  being  assured  of  his  own  powers  and  not  dis 
posed  to  credit  the  warning  given  him  by  the  young  men,  he 
pursued  the  object  of  his  challenge  and  decided  to  test  it  with  his 
pugilistic  skill.  Many  of  the  young  "  roughs  "  who  regarded 
Jack  as  their  hero,  also  determined  what  they  would  do  with 
young  Rice  at  the  first  opportunity.  Pittsburg  was  a  noted  resort 
in  those  days  for  rough  characters  and  fighters.  The  river  popu 
lation  consisting  mainly  of  foreign  element  was  as  disorderly  in 
many  respects  as  any  ever  known  in  this  country,  and  Rice,  dur 
ing  his  residence  there,  had  felt  the  necessity  of  keeping  guarded 
in  his  remarks  if  he  would  avoid  personal  encounters  with  the 
lower  element.  The  notorious  gang  who  upheld  Jack's  su-' 
premacy  numbered  among  its  leading  members  Coffey  Richard 
son,  Jake  Cameron,  and  Andy  Jackson,  each  of  whom  was  a 
pugilist  of  no  mean  repute,  but  all  yielding  the  palm  of  supremacy 
to  their  chief,  Jack.  Young  Rice  having  been  invited,  as  de 
scribed  previously,  to  take  part  in  the  benefit  given  to  John  May, 
one  of  the  clowns  of  the  Nicholls  Circus,  was  asked  with  the 
rest  of  the  company  after  the  performance  to  participate  in  re 
freshments  at  a  public  house,  kept  by  James  Ashworth,  an  Eng 
lishman,  and  which  was  a  favorite  resort  of  the  circus  people. 
While  the  company  was  conversing,  "  Devil  Jack,"  with  the 
members  of  his  party,  entered,  and  in  a  loud  voice  called  out, 
"  Where  is  that  Dan  Rice  who  thinks  he  can  whip  anybody?  " 
Young  Rice  was  standing  at  the  rear  of  the  room,  and  appre 
hending  that  trouble  was  brewing,  quietly  removed  his  coat,  and 
no  sooner  had  he  done  so,  than  Jack,  who  recognized  him,  hurled 
a  heavy  glass  at  him.  Our  hero,  being  on  the  alert,  dodged  the 
missile,  and,  unfortunately,  it  struck  the  clown,  John  May,  a 


DAfJ 


THE  ORIGINAL  HUMORIST  AS  HE  APPEARD  IN   HIS 

GREAT  UNION  SPEECH. 

f  STMOINTS 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  55 

terrible  blow  in  the  abdomen,  and  he  cried  out  in  agony,  after 
wards  becoming  insensible  from  the  injury.  Rice,  in  the  mean 
time,  had  assumed  a  crouching  position,  and,  with  a  rapid  move 
ment  towards  the  desperado,  caught  him  with  one  hand  and 
struck  him  a  terrible  blow  in  the  face  with  the  other.  Then  fol 
lowed  an  extraordinary  exhibition  of  strength,  scientifically  dis 
played  by  the  young  athlete.  Jack  was  a  large,  burly  fellow,  but 
regardless  of  his  weight  and  strength  Rice  drew  him  to  the  stove, 
which,  as  the  night  was  very  cold,  was  excessively  hot,  and  firmly 
held  one  side  of  his  face  against  it.  A  shriek  of  agony  from  the 
victim  caused  those  who  witnessed  the  scene  to  interfere  and  he 
was  rescued  from  the  perilous  situation  into  which  his  bravado 
and  misdemeanor  had  placed  him  and  which  he  justly  merited. 
But  he  was  marked  for  life  by  the  hideous  scars,  and  as  he  had 
lost  prestige,  his  friends  of  the  lower  element  deserted  him  and 
he  disappeared  from  their  enrollment  as  "  The  Bully  of  Bayards- 
town."  At  the  time  of  the  encounter  one  of  the  first  to  desert 
his  old  chief  was  Andy  Jackman,  who  approached  Dan,  and,  seiz 
ing  his  hand,  shook  it  warmly,  expressing  for  him  good-fellow 
ship.  He  afterwards  withdrew  from  those  associations  that  were 
surely  dragging  him  to  a  condition  from  which  eventually  it 
would  be  difficult  for  him  to  extricate  himself,  and  subsequently 
proved  one  of  our  hero's  stanchest  friends.  He  shortly  after 
wards  married  an  estimable  young  woman,  and  proved  himself  a 
devoted  husband  and  father  as  well  as  an  esteemed  citizen.  And 
at  his  death,  many  years  afterwards,  he  left  a  family  of  children 
of  whom  any  community  might  be  proud  to  accept  as  worthy  of 
their  esteem  and  respect. 

The  natural,  fun-loving  propensities  of  Dan  Rice  had  gained 
for  him  another  step  in  the  world  of  entertainment,  and  after 
the  exciting  scenes  at  the  Xicholls  Circus,  at  which  he  became 
very  popular,  his  impulsive  nature  grasped  the  idea  that  he 
could,  himself,  venture  in  a  similar  undertaking  in  a  small  way, 
and,  perhaps,  at  the  same  time,  utilize  the  instructions  of  Mon 
sieur  Guillot  by  putting  them  to  practical  use. 

This  venture  was  planned  and  eventually  executed  almost 
wholly  for  the  purpose  of  sight-seeing  and  the  pleasure  he  might 
extract  from  such  a  tour.  The  monetary  consideration  to  one  of 
his  calibre  was  merely  secondary,  and  with  one  or  two  compan 
ions,  he  was  ready  to  face  the  world  in  this  new  entertainment 
and  derive  what  benefit  he  could  from  the  small  fees  he  might 
gather  in  his  wanderings.  In  framing  the  final  arrangements 
of  his  plans,  he  decided  that  he  would  be  more  strongly  fortified 
to  take  the  people  by  storming  the  citadel  with  a  conspicuous 
attraction,  so  he  lost  no  time  in  laying  siege  to,  and  securing, 
this  novelty  in  the  shape  of  a  "Learned  Pig,"  that  was  the 


56  KEMINISCEXCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

joint  possession  of  two  conspicuous  characters  who  had  gained 
some  repute  by  their  previous  exhibitions  of  his  majesty,,  Lord 
Byron. 

Mr.  Osborne,  a  resident  of  Cazenovia,  N.  Y.,  a  barber  by  trade, 
and  who  was  afterwards  the  doorkeeper  of  the  Assembly  at  Al 
bany,  owned  the  creature  originally.  Mr.  Osborne  was  a  very 
intelligent  old  gentleman,  and,  as  Mr.  Rice  has  since  said,  "  How 
could  he  be  otherwise,  being  an  old,  live  Whig?  "  In  all  prob 
ability  his  astuteness  may  have  made  some  impression  on  the 
tender  mind  of  the  four-footed  wonder;  for  soon  after  its  pre 
cocity  became  noised  abroad  in  Cazenovia,  C.  L.  Kise,  an  ingen 
ious  Connecticut  Yankee,  became  part  owner  of  the  pig  by  pur 
chase.  This  extraordinary  animal  seemed  destined  to  prove  a 
success,  for  when  Mr.  Kise  exhibited  "  Lord  Byron  "  under  a 
tent  in  the  Broadhurst  lot  in  Pittsburg,  it  was  the  result  of  that 
exhibition  that  caused  young  Bice,  pining  for  a  new  field  of  action 
for  the  exercise  of  his  genius,  to  mature  his  plans.  He  was  con 
stantly  watching  every  available  opportunity  whereby  he  could 
display  his  physical  powers  and  create  a  name  in  the  athletic 
world.  As  Mr.  Osborne  wished  to  withdraw  from  this  form  of 
entertainment,  young  Eice  purchased  his  half -interest  in  the  show, 
Mr.  Kise  still  remaining  the  owner  of  the  other  half.  Before 
going  any  further,  it  is  due  to  Mr.  Kise  to  mention  in  connection 
with  these  memoirs  the  fact  that  it  was  he  who  first  brought 
George  Washington's  "  Black  Mammy  "  nurse,  Joyce  Heth,  from 
honored  obscurity  in  old  Virginia  and  put  her  on  exhibition  in 
New  York  City.  She  was  first  seen  in  the  Bowery,  near  the  old 
Chatham  Theatre,  and  was  afterwards  taken  at  P.  T.  Barnum's 
earnest  solicitation,  to  the  American  Museum  where  she  was  in 
spected  for  some  time  by  the  interested  public.  Even  in  that 
day,  Colonel  Eice  says,  the  imposture  was  regarded  as  a  sort  of 
patriotic  "  fraud  "  which  at  once  endeared  itself  to  Mr.  Barnum's 
soul  for  that  reason.  Mr.  Kise  also  procured  for  Barnum  the  first 
"  mermaid  "  seen  on  dry  land,  and  even  the  "  mysterious  lady  " 
herself  was  the  product  of  that  gentleman's  ingenuity. 

In  returning  to  our  subject,  we  find  "  Lord  Byron  "  installed 
as  the  joint  property  of  C.  L.  Kise  and  Dan  Eice;  and  in  the 
spring  of  1841,  they  commenced  a  starring  tour  with  hopeful 
expectations  that  the  outcome  would  furnish  to  them  the  desired 
results,  namely,  a  monetary  benefit  in  the  case  of  Mr.  Kise,  but 
merely  a  name  for  Dan  Eice.  This  was  Mr.  Eice's  first  inde 
pendent  venture,  but  he  soon  became  aware  of  the  fact  that  in 
defatigable  labor  attended  the  business,  and  only  a  strong  will 
and  perseverance  would  pronounce  it  a  success.  He,  therefore, 
centered  all  his  energies  to  establish  that  end,  and  his  mind  grad 
ually  expanded  in  his  efforts  to  employ  his  inventive  genius,  and 


OF    DAN     RICE  57 

his  rapid  progress  in  later  years,  in  that  peculiar  capacity,  origi 
nated  with  that  little  wandering  band  in  those  early  days.  The 
"  Learned  Pig  "  undoubtedly  had  certain  accomplishments,  as  he 
was  advertised  to  foretell  the  future,  to  play  an  invincible  game 
of  cards,  and  read  the  Book  of  Fate.  Mr.  Kise  with  his  happy 
faculty  exhibited  the  creature  to  good  advantage,  but  the  strong 
feature  of  the  show  was  the  "  Young  American  Hercules,"  Dan 
Eice,  with  his  repartee,  his  songs  of  sentiment  and  pathos,  and 
his  inimitable  feats  of  strength.  Xow  began  that  delicate,  com 
plicated  study  of  human  nature  in  which  he  was  a  natural  adept; 
that  tenacious  grasping  after  the  hopes,  sorrows,  and  joys  of  the 
**  plain  people  "  which  contributed  so  conspicuously  to  Colonel 
Eice's  success  in  after  years.  Xo  item  of  news  gathered  at  the 
roadside  while  soliciting  a  ride  with  a  good-natured  teamster, 
or  gossiping  with  an  old  person  at  a  farmhouse  or  an  inn,  was  too 
trivial  or  unimportant  to  be  treasured  in  his  retentive  memory. 
Every  circumstance  connected  with  the  history  of  persons  and 
places  collected  in  his  peregrinations,  no  matter  how  remote  or 
small  in  detail,  was  stowed  away  to  be  utilized  to  an  advantage 
whenever,  by  chance,  he  might  visit  that  place  or  come  in  con 
tact  with  the  individual  whom  it  concerned.  Like  the  gypsy,  he 
was  always  enabled  to  astonish  some  coterie  or  family  in  every 
village  in  which  the  quadruped  was  exhibited  with  revelations 
that  savored  of  necromancy,  and  spread  the  fame  of  his  lordship 
far  and  wide.  In  all  the  well-known  games  of  cards,  the  four- 
footed  gambler,  as  might  have  been  expected,  with  young  Rice 
overshadowing  the  cards  of  both  competitors,  was  invariably  the 
winner  of  the  small  coins  staked  by  his  verdant  admirers.  At 
Jacksonville,  Pa.,  a  Mr.  Spangle,  an  incredulous  dignitary  of  the 
church  of  that  place,  who  doubted  the  possibility  of  a  pig  beat 
ing  him  at  "  all-fours,"  a  game  that  had  been  favorite  with  him 
in  time  previous,  was,  the  week  following  Eice's  departure,  called 
before  the  church  tribunal  and  suspended  from  his  office  for  in 
dulging  in  "  high-low-Jack,"  in  which  he  was  beaten  by  this 
pedantic  grunter.  So  largely  did  Mr.  Eice  attribute  his  success 
in  after  life  to  the  experience  he  gained  in  this  employment,  that 
he  taught  to  a  poodle  dog  he  called  Seth,  the  most  plausible  of 
canine  charlatans,  the  rudiments  of  the  classic  lore  for  which  the 
pig  had  previously  been  celebrated.  Many  readers  of  these  pages 
will  recollect  the  advent  of  "  Seth,"  from  where,  no  one  knows, 
led  by  an  old  tattered  beggar,  under  whose  wig  and  worthless 
garments  was  the  graceful  and  muscular  form  of  Dan  Eice,  with 
a  spirit  ripe  for  any  adventure,  no  matter  how  hazardous  or  wild. 
This  assumed  impersonation  on  the  part  of  Mr.  Eice  was  merely 
a  scheme  invented  by  him  to  advertise  the  "  Pig  Show."  Soon 
after  the  beginning  of  his  tour  with  the  pig  young  Eice  overheard 


58  KEMINISCEXCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

an  allusion  to  a  barn  that  had  recently  been  burned  in  Greens- 
burg,  a  small  town  in  Western  Pennsylvania,  which  he  proposed 
visiting  the  next  day.  He  soon  gleaned  from  the  gossips  ail  the 
facts  with  which  every  one  was  acquainted,  namely,  that  the  barn 
was  burned  the  preceding  Monday  night  and  a  man  named  Wil 
liam  Gates  was  suspected  of  the  crime.  The  appearance  of  Gates 
was  described  as  well  as  that  of  another  person  named  Jaacks, 
who  was  owner  of  the  barn,  but  there  was  no  other  reason  for  the 
suspicion  of  Gates  excepting  the  fact  that  a  quarrel  had  occurred 
between  the  two  men  a  short  time  previous  to  the  burning  of  the 
building.  After  reaching  Greensburg  the  next  day,  Mr.  Rice 
placarded  the  place  with  his  twelve-inch  square  showbills  with  a 
picture  of  "  Lord  Byron  "  at  the  top,  decked  in  ribbons,  wig,  and 
spectacles  and  scanning  what  wras  intended  to  be  the  "  Book  of 
Fate."  Beneath  the  picture  was  a  glowing  description  of  how 
the  pig  foretold  General  Jackson's  election  fully  six  months  be 
fore  it  occurred;  predicted  correctly  the  number  of  children  Mrs. 
North  would  have;  how  long  old  Mrs.  Jones  would  live;  to  whom 
and  when  Miss  Smith  would  be  married;  would  play  and  win  a 
game  of  "  all-fours "  with  the  most  dexterous  gambler  in  the 
place,  and  would  expound  all  questions  relating  to  the  past,  pres 
ent,  and  future;  besides  telling  who  borrowed  Mrs.  Barker's 
spoons  and  failed  to  return  them,  and  what  biped  laid  waste  the 
Wilkins  chicken-house.  This  advertising  being  accomplished, 
in  order  to  prevent  the  suspicion  of  his  having  learned  his  news 
from  the  townspeople,  and  partly  to  enhance  his  importance  by 
avoiding  the  eyes  of  the  rabble,  he  and  his  inseparable  companion 
confined  themselves  to  their  room  for  the  remainder  of  the  day, 
with  a  cabalistic  curtain  hung  up  before  the  window,  and  an  unin 
telligible  jargon  between  the  two  whenever  a  servant  had  occa 
sion  to  enter  the  room  or  a  listener  was  supposed  to  be  at  the  key 
hole.  In  the  evening,  when  young  Eice  and  the  pig  made  their 
appearance  in  the  tent,  it  was,  as  usual,  filled  with  anxious  specta 
tors,  as  might  have  been  expected  with  such  a  pig  and  such 
strong  advertisement. 

The  audience  was  evidently  predisposed  in  favor  of  the  pig, 
so  gayly  was  he  decorated  with  parti-colored  ribbons  and  so 
cleanly  and  tidy  did  he  appear  after  a  toilet  as  carefully  prepared 
as  the  most  pampered  lapdog  ever  received  from  its  interested 
mistress. 

After  a  few  introductory  remarks  to  the  people  assembled,  Mr. 
Rice  usually  gave  a  brief  synopsis  of  the  creature's  endowments, 
and  demonstrated  the  same  in  a  manner  so  novel  and  peculiar, 
that,  to  the  audience,  the  facts  appeared  real  and  tangible.  On 
this  particular  occasion  he  so  framed  his  remarks  that  he  brought 
about  the  interesting  expose  of  the  burned  building. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  59 

"  Now,"  said  Mr.  Rice  to  his  Lordship,  "  we  will  see  what  you 
know.  Can  you  tell  me  what  o'clock  it  is?  " 

The  pig  jumped  with  his  forefeet  against  his  interrogator  and 
caught  the  seal  of  his  watch  gently  between  his  teeth.  "  Oh! 
anybody  can  tell  by  looking  at  the  watch,  but  I  suppose  you  must 
have  your  way,  here  it  is." 

The  pig  inspected  the  timepiece  knowingly,  and  then  went  to 
the  figured  cards  that  were  laid  on  the  platform  and  brought  to 
his  master  the  figure  seven.  "  Now,"  said  Mr.  Rice,  "  show  me 
how  many  minutes  past  seven,"  and  he  returned  and  brought  to 
him  the  number  ten,  signifying,  Mr.  Rice  explained,  that  it  was 
ten  minutes  past  seven  o'clock.  On  submitting  the  watch  to  the 
audience,  behold,  it  was  found  to  be  correct. 

"  Will  some  gentleman,"  pursued  Mr.  Rice,  "  draw  one  of  these 
cards?"  producing  a  well-worn  pack.  Accordingly,  the  six  of 
hearts  was  drawn  and  then  returned  to  the  pack,  which  was  spread 
face  upwards  on  the  floor.  Being  asked  what  card  had  been 
drawn,  the  pig  picked  up  the  six  of  hearts. 

"  Byron,  who  is  the  greatest  rogue  in  the  room?  "  Everybody 
moved  uneasily  in  their  seats  as  the  animal  seemingly  glanced 
thoughtfully  over  the  audience,  and  their  delight  knew  no  bounds 
when  he  stopped  opposite  Mr.  Rice  himself  and  thrust  his  nose 
against  his  limbs. 

"  Byron,  what  do  you  deserve  when  you  won't  be  washed  and 
combed?" 

Byron  ran  and  brought  Mr.  Rice's  walking  stick  and  laid  it  at 
his  feet. 

"  Now,  ladies  and  gentlemen,  those  who  want  their  fortunes 
told  will  please  stand  up  here  in  a  row." 

The  verdant  element,  after  a  great  deal  of  giggling  and  ban 
tering,  proceeded  to  assemble,  and  a  score  of  rustic  beauties 
and  gallants  of  the  village  advanced,  while  Jaacks  and  his 
wife  at  that  moment  entered  and  took  their  seats.  Mr.  Rice 
recognized  them  readily  from  the  description  he  had  previously 
obtained,  and  after  a  mysterious  conference  with  the  pig,  Mr. 
Rice  said,  addressing  Jaacks,  who  sat  in  the  front  row  with  his 
aged  wife: 

"  Your  name,  sir,  is  Jaacks,  and  you  have  come  to  inquire  who 
set  fire  to  your  barn  last  Monday  night." 

Had  a  torpedo  been  cast  into  the  tent,  it  could  not  have  pro 
duced  greater  consternation.  Jaacks  alone  was  composed,  for  his 
anxiety  to  ferret  out  the  offender  had  taken  the  place  of  the 
amazement  he  would  otherwise  have  felt. 

"  Yell,  who  ish  te  tarn  raschall  ash  purnt  my  parn?  " 

"  Byron  always  charges  ten  dollars  in  advance  for  making 
an  important  revelation  like  this,"  responded  Mr.  Rice. 


CO  KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

"  Here  ish  de  monish!  Now,  den,  ash  your  pig,  and  if  he  dells 
me  te  tarn  raschall,  I'll  give  half  a  tollar  more." 

"  Well,  sir,  Byron,  do  you  know  who  burnt  Mr.  Jaacks'  barn?  " 

The  pig  picked  up  the  word  "  yes  "  from  the  floor. 

"Had  he  black  hair?" 

The  pig  picked  up  the  word  "  no  "  and  brought  it  to  his  master. 

"  Was  his  hair  red?  " 

"  No." 

Byron  then  proceeded  to  describe  the  culprit  accurately  by 
words  printed  on  cards.  "  Py  Got,  te  very  man.  I  shall  go 
straight  to  de  Justice,  by  Got,  and  sue  him  to  jail.  Now  just 
ash  de  pig  if  he  has  a  scar  on  his  eye." 

Upon  that  hint,  of  course,  Byron  decided  indubitably  he  had 
a  scar  over  his  eye. 

"  Dunder  and  blitzen!  I  shall  speeny  te  pig  to  de  trial  and  Bill 
Gates  shall  go  to  Benetentiary." 

These  remarkable  revelations  put  all  other  experiments  out  of 
the  heads  of  the  audience,  who  made  their  way  in  awe  from  the 
tent. 

Contradictory  accounts  are  rife  in  regard  to  the  subsequent 
proceedings.  On  western  steamboats,  the  story  is  told  that  Mr. 
Jaacks  had  Lord  Byron  up  before  the  Grand  Jury  of  the  county, 
who  were  as  superstitious  as  himself,  and  that  a  true  bill  was 
found  against  Gates,  on  the  pig's  evidence,  after  which  the  pig 
was  held  in  recognizance  of  $1,000,  to  appear  at  the  next  term  of 
the  county  court,  where,  with  his  interpreter,  Mr.  Eice,  he  bore 
testimony  so  conclusive  against  the  prisoner  that  the  jury  pro 
nounced  him  guilty  without  leaving  the  box,  and  also  that  Gates 
was  confined  in  the  county  jail  a  fortnight,  until  the  lamented 
Governor  Shunk  heard  of  his  ridiculous  incarceration  and  par 
doned  him. 

The  correct  version  of  the  aft'air  is,  that  Mr.  Jaacks,  armed  with 
these  portentous  revelations,  which  were  to  him  "  confirmations 
strong  as  proofs  of  holy  writ,"  made  liberal  use  of  the  pig's  pre 
tended  truth  before  the  grand  jury,  confusing  his  own  suspicions 
with  Lord  Byron's  evidence  in  such  a  way  as  to  make  a  pretty 
good  ex  parte  case,  and  that  the  grand  jury  adopting  the  general 
impression  of  the  county,  some  of  them  having  been  present,  pos 
sibly,  at  the  exhibition,  without  any  reasonable  grounds  found  a 
"  true  bill."  That  Gates  was  tried,  all  accounts  agree,  but  upon 
a  careful  examination  of  the  archives  of  the  Secretary  of  State's 
office,  no  record  of  such  conviction  or  subsequent  pardon  can  be 
found. 

In  the  community,  however,  where  these  circumstances  oc 
curred,  implicit  faith  was  centered  in  the  pig's  omniscience. 

It  was  at  this  period  of  his  career  that  Mr.  Eice  first  developed 


EEMINISCEXCES    OF    DAN    KICE  61 

his  remarkable  faculty,  afterwards  so  useful,  of  composing  and 
singing  extempore  songs  on  the  topics  of  the  hour.  He  had  been 
a  boy  friend  of  Stephen  C.  Foster  and  Morrison  Foster,  his  elder 
brother,  who  were  the  sons  of  the  Mayor  of  Allegheny  City. 
Stephen  showed  in  his  earliest  years  the  talent  that  afterwards 
made  him  famous,  and  Mr.  Rice,  with  some  instructions  from  his 
gifted  chum,  afterwards  succeeded  in  accomplishing  this  difficult 
art  of  song-making  for  himself,  that  he  used  to  successful  advan 
tage  in  localizing  events  and  portraying  character.  His  first 
effort,  "  Hard  Times,"  as  composed  and  sung  on  the  "  Learned 
Pig  "  tour,  is  as  follows: 


HARD    TIMES. 

Come  listen  awhile,  and  give  ear  to  my  song, 
Concerning  these  hard  times — 'twill  not  take  you  long; 
How  everybody  is  always  trying  to  bite, 
In  cheating  each  other,  and  think  they  do  right — 
In  these  hard  times. 

The  landlord  will  feed  your  horse  on  oats,  corn,  and  hay, 
And  as  soon  as  your  back's  turned,  he'll  take  it  away; 
For  oats  he'll  give  chaff,  and  for  corn  he'll  give  bran, 
Still  he  will  cry,  "  I'm  too  honest  a  man 
For  these  hard  times." 

There  is  the  Miller,  who  grinds  for  his  toll; 
He  will  do  your  work  well,  as  he'll  care  for  his  soul — 
As  soon  as  your  back's  turned,  with  the  dish  in  his  fist, 
He  will  leave  you  the  toll,  and  himself  take  the  grist, 
In  these  hard  times. 

There  is  the  Lawyer — he'll  turn  like  a  key — 
He  will  tell  a,  big  lie  to  gain  a  small  fee; 
He  will  tell  you  your  cause  is  honest  and  right, 
And,  if  you  have  no  cash,  he  will  swear  you're  a  bite, 
In  these  hard  times. 

There  is  the  Tinker — he  will  mend  all  your  ware, 
For  little  or  nothing — some  cider  or  beer; 
Before  he  commences  he  will  get  half-drunk  or  more, 
And  in  stopping  one  hole  will  punch  twenty  more, 
In  these  hard  times. 


62  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

The  Jeweller— he  works  in  the  finest  of  gold, 
He  makes  the  best  earrings  that  ever  were  sold; 
Tells  peddlers  to  lie,  to  dispel  ladies'  fears, 
Till  the  verdigris  eats  oft'  their  fingers  and  ears, 
In  these  hard  times. 

There  is  the  Printer — he  is  a  hard  case; 
You  always  can  tell  him  by  the  brass  in  his  face; 
If  you  owe  him  a  dollar,  you  will  think  it  no  harm, 
But,  if  you  don't  fork  it  over,  he'll  lock  up  your  form, 
In  these  hard  times. 

There  is  the  Barber,  who  labors  for  pelf; 
He  shaves  every  blockhead  that  can't  shave  himself; 
A  dime  he  will  have  from  his  friends  or  his  foes, 
Or  else  he  will  never  let  go  of  your  nose, 
In  these  hard  times. 

There  is  the  Constable,  who  thinks  himself  wise; 
He  will  come  to  your  house  with  a  big  pack  of  lies; 
He  will  take  all  your  property  and  then  he  will  sell — 

Get  drunk  on  your  money — that's  doing  d n  well, 

These  hard  times. 

There  is  the  farmer — Oh,  Lord!  how  he'll  cheat, 
With  his  oats,  corn,  and  barley,  and  rusty  old  wheat; 
He  will  thirst  for  a  penny  till  he  is  blue  at  the  nose, 
And  he'll  d — n  you  for  thanks,  that's  the  way  the  world  goes 
In  these  hard  times. 

The  priest  will  tell  you  which  way  you  must  steer, 
To  save  your  poor  souls,  which  he  values  so  dear; 
And  if  he  can't  draw  something  out  of  your  purse, 
He  will  take  off  his  blessing  and  whack  on  a  curse, 
In  these  hard  times. 

There  are  some  Young  Men,  who  a-courting  will  go, 
To  see  pretty  girls,  you  very  well  know; 
The  old  folks  will  giggle,  they'll  squint,  and  they'll  grin, 
Crying — "  Use  him  well,  Sail,  or  he  won't  come  again, 
For  it's  hard  times." 

There  is  the  merchant,  his  goods  are  the  best 
That  ever  arrived  from  the  East  or  the  West; 
With  his  damaged  calicoes,  jews'-harps,  and  brass  clocks, 
Are  quite  necessary  for  all  clever  folks, 
In  these  hard  times. 


WILL  s.  HAYS" 


THE    "  DAN    RTCE  " 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  63 

Now  come  the  Ladies,  those  sweet  little  dears, 
To  the  balls  and  the  parties,  how  nice  they  appear, 
With  their  whalebones  and  corsets,  themselves  will  squeeze, 
And  they  have  to  unlace  them  before  they  can  sneeze, 
In  these  hard  times. 

From  father  to  mother,  from  sister  to  brother, 
From  cousin  to  cousin,  they  cheat  one  another; 
Maids  about  modesty  make  a  great  rout, 
And  rogues  about  honesty  often  fall  out, 
In  these  hard  times. 

The  Blacksmith  says  he  pays  cash  for  his  stock, 
Therefore  it's  hard  for  him  to  trust  it  out; 
He'll  sell  a  few  shoes,  and  mend  an  old  plow, 
And  when  the  Fall  comes,  he  must  have  your  best  cow, 
In  these  hard  times. 

The  Doctor  will  dose  you  with  physic  and  squills, 
With  blisters  and  plasters,  and  powders  and  pills; 
Wlien  your  money's  all  spent,  and  your  breathing  most  done, 
The  Doctor  cries  out — "  Poor  soul,  you're  most  gone," 
In  these  hard  times. 

The  Baker  will  cheat  you  in  bread  that  you  eat — 
So  will  the  Butcher,  in  the  weight  of  his  meat; 
He'll  tip  up  the  scales  to  make  them  weigh  down, 
And  swear  it  is  weight  when  it  lacks  half  a  pound, 
In  these  hard  times. 

The  Tailor  will  cabbage  your  cloth  and  your  skin — 
He'll  cheat  and  defraud  you,  and  swear  it's  no  sin; 
Although  he  is  honest,  as  all  the  world  knows, 
But  he  will  have  his  cabbage  wherever  he  goes, 
In  these  hard  times. 

There  are  some  young  men  who  cut  quite  a  dash; 
They  strut  around  town  without  a  cent  of  cash — 
With  low  pocket  pants,  and  pigeon-tail  coats, 
And  hair  on  their  chins  like  a  parcel  of  goats, 
In  these  hard  times. 

At  Washington  City,  Politicians  throng — 
Try  various  ways  to  make  their  sessions  long; 
Many  reasons  they  give  why  they  are  obliged  to  stay, 
But  the  clearest  reason  yet  is  eight  dollars  a  day, 
In  these  hard  times. 


64  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

The  Judge  on  the  bench  is  honest  and  true — 
Hell  gaze  at  a  man,,  as  though  to  look  him  through; 
He'll  send  you  six  months  or  one  year  to  jail, 
And  for  five  dollars  more  he'll  send  you  to  h — 11, 
In  these  hard  times. 

Now,  a  word  for  myself,  before  I  make  any  foes, 
There  are  exceptions  in  all  trades,  as  all  the  world  knows, 
Although  in  my  song  you  may  errors  detect, 
I  hope  'tis  as  good  as  my  friends  could  expect, 
In  these  hard  times. 


CHAPTER    IX. 

MR.  RICE  AS  A  POET — HIS  FIRST  EFFUSION  IN  HONOR  OF 
LORD  BYRON — THE  ONLY  "READING  NOTICE"  HE  EVER 
PAID  FOR  IN  A  NEWSPAPER — ADVENTURES  WITH  BASIL 
BROWN,  WHOSE  DEATH  HE  SO  STRANGELY  FORETOLD — IN 
CIDENT  OF  COL.  F.  K.  HAIN'S  BOYHOOD — MR.  RICE  IN  PHI 
LADELPHIA — HIS  DEBUT  UNDER  PHINEAS  TAYLOR  IN  FEATS 
OF  STRENGTH — HE  OBTAINS  AN  ENGAGEMENT  WITH  HOWE'S 
CIRCUS  BY  WINNING  A  HARDLY  CONTESTED  WRESTLING 
BOUT — CONTRACT  WITH  BARNUM — HERCULEAN  STRENGTH 
VERSUS  AN  EMPTY  PUNCHEON — CHARACTERISTIC  ANECDOTE 
OF  P.  T.  BARNUM — ENGAGEMENT  WITH  JENNY  LIND'S  AGENT 
TO  GO  ABROAD. 

THESE  new  features  which  Mr.  Eice  voluntarily  introduced 
in  his  performances  and  the  spontaneous  recognition  which 
greeted  his  efforts  in  this  direction  had  a  tendency  to  assure  him 
that  his  efforts  were  appreciated.  And  that  knowledge  spurred 
him  onward  in  his  attempts  to  reach  a  higher  standard.  His 
extempore  speeches  consisting  at  first  of  only  a  few  well-chosen 
remarks,  gradually  enlarged  until  he  craved  for  higher  subjects 
that  would  be  a  source  of  interest  to  the  more  intelligent  of  his 
spectators.  This  standard  could  be  reached  only  by  hard,  in 
cessant  study,  and  our  hero,  being  aware  of  that  fact,  applied  him 
self  to  a  regime  of  mental  cultivation  which  has  occupied  a  long, 
eventful  life. 

Being  possessed  of  a  powerful  and  retentive  memory,  it  has 
served  him  faithfully  in  all  the  intricate  phases  of  his  usefulness, 
and  never,  in  any  instance,  betrays  him;  therefore,  he  is  always 
prepared,  even  in  his  advanced  age,  for  any  occasion,  and  ade- 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  65 

quate  to  the  demands  made  upon  his  social  requirements  without 
any  previous  preparation.  His  first  poetic  effusion  on  the 
''  Learned  Pig  "  pronounced  his  genius  in  that  direction  to  be 
also  in  embryo,,  and  the  following  little  incident  in  connection 
with  it  has  been  related  by  Colonel  Eice  himself  in  later  years. 
During  one  of  his  interviews  he  remarked,  "  The  only  '  puff '  I 
ever  paid  for  in  a  newspaper,  to  use  an  offensive  word,  was  poetry. 
It  was  a  poem  in  honor  of  the  Learned  Pig,  and  I  paid  a  half- 
dollar  for  its  publication  in  the  '  Commonwealth,'  of  Washing 
ton,  Pa.,  in  1841.  The  lines  ran  as  follows,  to  the  best  of  my 
recollection: 

"  '  I've  seen  the  Learned  Pig.    'Tis  queer 
To  see  a  hog  become  a  seer. 
He  knows  his  letters  and  can  hunt 
The  alphabet  without  a  grunt; 
Can  add,  subtract,  and  knows  the  rule 
As  well  as  any  boy  in  school; 
By  working  with  his  head  and  snout 
He  finds  the  truth  without  a  doubt. 
'Tis  wondrous  how  a  brute  so  low 
Was  taught  by  man  so  much  to  know! " 

"  Now  it  seemed  to  me,"  added  Mr.  Eice,  "  that  the  production 
was  worth  publishing  for  its  own  sake.  But  the  editor  of  the 
Washington  '  Commonwealth '  did  not  so  see  it.  Well,"  with  a 
touch  of  the  old-time  humor,  "  his  coffers  may  have  been  low,  and 
I  thought  his  conduct  equally  so."  From  Washington,  the  Pig 
Show  departed  for  Claysville,  Pa.,  and  having  reached  that  place, 
made  arrangements  for  spending  the  night  at  the  stage  hotel 
kept  by  Basil  Brown,  a  thrifty  boniface.  Brown's  Hotel  was  a 
well-known  stop  on  the  National  Turnpike,  a  thoroughfare  then 
in  the  height  of  its  glory.  Nothing  unusual  occurred  during  the 
night,  as  the  performance  was  conducted  harmoniously  and  the 
audience  was  satisfactorily  entertained.  The  Learned  Pig  and 
his  exhibitors  were  driven  away  in  the  conveyance  next  morning 
to  Middletown,  Pa,,  and  as  they  stopped  in  front  of  the  hotel  at 
that  place,  they  were  surprised  to  perceive  that  Basil  Brown,  their 
host  of  the  previous  night,  was  there  to  meet  them.  Before  they 
had  alighted  from  the  wagon  that  contained  the  paraphernalia  of 
the  show,  including  a  chest,  which,  at  times,  was  improvised  into 
a  seat  in  case  of  an  emergency,  an  officer  appeared  with  a  warrant 
authorizing  him  to  search  the  show- wagon  for  a  stolen  overcoat. 
Here  was  a  novelty  entirely  unlooked  for  and  unsolicited,  and 
indignant  as  they  were  at  the  outrageous  accusation,  Mr.  Eice  and 
his  companions  submitted  willingly  to  the  search,  in  the  course 
5 


66  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

of  which,  however,  they  were  both  confident  that  the  missing  coat 
would  not  be  found  among  their  effects. 

As  the  officer  was  on  the  point  of  giving  up  the  search,  Brown, 
all  the  while  stood  looking  on  with  a  sardonic  smile.  At  last,  he 
remarked  to  the  officer,  "  Look  under  the  chest,"  and  to  the  sur 
prise  of  Mr.  Eice  and  Mr.  Kise,  there  the  missing  coat  was  found. 
Accordingly,  the  whole  outfit  was  seized,  and  before  one  word  of 
remonstrance  could  be  uttered  by  young  Eice  and  his  partner, 
they  were  taken  back  to  Washington  and  confined  in  the  jail. 
Brown,  on  the  way  back,  offered  to  compromise  with  Mr.  Kise 
for  the  sum  of  twenty-five  dollars,  and  expressed  a  desire  to  pay 
the  costs,  which  Mr.  Eice  refused  to  accept,  as  it  would  not  relieve 
them  from  the  stigma  of  dishonesty.  Mr.  Seth  T\  Hurd,  a  popu 
lar  lawyer,  was  engaged  to  defend  them,  and  the  public  interest 
was  aroused  to  a  high  state  of  excitement,  for  young  Eice  was 
widely  and  favorably  known  throughout  the  country. 

Mrs.  Cadwallader  Evans,  a  wealthy  lady  of  Pittsburg,  whose 
husband  invented  the  safety  guard  to  prevent  the  explosion  of 
steam-boilers,  was,  at  the  time,  visiting  in  Washington,  and  en 
listed  her  sympathies  in  the  case,  as  she  was  a  friend  of  Mr.  Eice's 
and  one  of  his  patrons  when  he  was  in  the  livery  business  in 
Pittsburg.  This  lady  kindly  offered  to  furnish  bail  on  this  oc 
casion,  but  young  Eice  declined  to  accept  it,  preferring,  as  he 
informed  her,  to  stand  trial,  as  he  felt  sure  that  some  evidence 
would  be  furnished  to  prove  them  both  innocent  without  any  re 
flection  on  them.  Nor  was  his  confidence  in  the  argument  mis 
taken,  for  the  landlord  of  Middletown  and  his  wife  both  volun 
tarily  appeared  at  the  trial  and  testified  that  when  Brown  arrived 
at  their  hotel  at  early  dawn  that  morning,  he  wore  a  brown  over 
coat,  and  after  ordering  breakfast  left  the  hotel.  When  he  re 
turned,  just  previous  to  the  arrival  of  the  young  men  with  the 
show,  he  had  no  overcoat,  and  they  overheard  him  say  to  the  offi 
cer  who  made  the  search,  "  Look  under  the  chest."  It  was 
clearly  proved  that  Brown  must  have  employed  some  means  for 
placing  the  coat  where  it  was  found  while  young  Eice  and  Kise 
were  slowly  making  their  way  to  Middletown,  for  he  knew  so 
well  where  to  locate  it.  Mr.  Hurd  made  an  eloquent  appeal  in 
behalf  of  the  young  men  and  there  was  a  triumphant  acquittal  of 
the  prisoners.  That  evening,  in  the  hotel  parlor  at  Washing 
ton,  Mr.  Eice  celebrated  the  finale  of  the  overcoat  dilemma  by 
singing  a  song  in  mongrel  verse  descriptive  of  the  whole  pro 
ceedings,  in  which  Mr.  Brown's  name  figured  conspicuously,  by 
being  used  with  satirical  freedom.  The  sequel  to  this  story 
proved  to  be  a  strange  one  in  several  details.  Years  afterwards, 
in  18G3,  Colonel  Eice,  who  was  now  both  wealthy  and  famous, 
took  his  circus  to  the  town  of  Cambridge,  0.,  and  when  the  place 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  67 

designated  for  the  night  was  reached,  it  was  found  to  be 
"  Brown's  Hotel."  As  Colonel  Eice  walked  from  the  clerk's  desk 
where  he  had  registered,  to  go  to  his  room,  he  noticed  a  hand 
some,  matronly  woman  in  one  of  the  parlors  looking  at  him  with 
apprehension  in  her  eyes.  She  called  to  him  softly  as  he  was 
passing  and  said,  "  Mr.  Eice,  spare  us!  Years  ago  my  husband 
wronged  you,  but  you  won't  pursue  your  vengeance  after  so  long 
a  time.  We  are  well-to-do  and  respected  here,  and  our  son  is  a 
cashier  in  the  bank.  Let  bygones  be  bygones!  "  Colonel  Eice 
lost  no  time  in  reassuring  her,  but  in  the  course  of  conversation, 
remarked,  "  Madame,  I  am  gifted  with  the  light  of  prophecy.  I 
see  disaster  impending  over  your  household;  your  husband's  oc 
cupation  exposes  him  to  many  perils.  If  his  life  is  not  insured, 
I  advise  you  to  persuade  him  to  insure  it  at  once."  The  expres 
sions  Colonel  Eice  used  were  not  meant  to  distress  the  woman, 
but  were  made  merely  to  annoy  her  husband.  This  good  lady,  in 
whom  he  saw,  with  the  eyes  of  faith,  the  potentiality  of  a  rich 
and  favored  widow,  promised  to  follow  his  advice;  but  a  few 
mornings  afterwards  when  the  stage-coach  drove  up  to  the  en 
trance  of  Brown's  Hotel,  the  host  went  to  assist  with  the  luggage 
and  a  drummer's  trunk  fell  upon  him  from  the  top  of  the  coach 
and  he  was  instantly  killed. 

Many  amusing  incidents  have  been  related  to  the  younger  gen 
erations  by  the  rustic  element  in  those  Pennsylvania  villages  and 
hamlets  in  connection  with  the  Eice  and  Kise  Pig  Show,  and  we 
select  the  following  as  it  has  a  bearing  upon  the  early  boyhood  of 
the  late  Col.  F.  K.  Hain,  so  conspicuous  in  the  financial  world  of 
Xew  York  as  the  esteemed  and  well-known  chief  manager  of  the 
Manhattan  Elevated  Eailroad  System.  The  circumstance  oc 
curred  in  Wormelsdorf,  near  Stoutville,  Col.  Hain's  native  village 
in  Pennsylvania,  in  the  course  of  the  visit  of  Mr.  Eice  and  the 
Learned  Pig.  Farmer  Hain  attended  the  show  accompanied  by 
his  little  boy.  Being  one  of  the  important  men  of  the  neighbor 
hood,  the  audience  felt  gratified  at  the  honor  conferred  when  Mr. 
Hain  was  invited  to  play  cards  with  "  Lord  Byron,"  and  conse 
quently  the  game  was  watched  with  close  attention.  Mr.  Eice's 
signals  to  the  pig  consisted  of  snapping  the  thumb  and  finger 
nails  together,  a  process  unobserved  by  everyone  except  Lord 
Byron.  As  the  animal's  wonderful  adaptation  had  created  quite 
a  stir  in  the  country  circles,  Farmer  Hain's  little  son,  being  a  close 
observer,  had  not  accompanied  his  father  for  mere  pleasure  only; 
it  was  a  visit  of  searching  investigation  as  well.  When  he  ob 
served  the  cold,  critical  eye  of  the  four-footed  seer  fixed  on  the 
.cards  his  father  held;  he  instantly  exhibited  that  shrewd  resource 
fulness,  which,  in  later  years,  so  successfully  characterized  his 
management  of  affairs,  and  cried  out  impulsively,  "  Take  care, 


68  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

Pop;  take  care,  the  pig  will  beat  you.  He's  looking  in  your 
hand."  The  farmer  skillfully  manipulated  his  cards,  but  all  to 
no  purpose,  for  the  pig,  having  profited  as  everyone  thought,  by 
the  stolen  glances,  successfully  won  the  game.  Which  fact  may 
be  attributed,  of  course,  to  the  adroitness  of  Mr.  Eice,  who, 
though  young  in  years,  was  one  of  the  most  skillful  card-players 
of  the  day. 

The  Pig  Show  episode  was  concluded  in  September,  1841,  with 
some  profit,  and  as  a  controversy  arose  in  regard  to  the  future 
possessor  of  "  Lord  Byron  "  he  was  executed  after  the  manner  of 
his  common  brotherhood,  each  partner  receiving  his  quota  ac 
cording  to  the  terms  or  conditions  of  contract. 

This  Solomonesque  partition  was  made  in  Eiter's  Hotel  in 
Kensington,  Pa.,  and  Mr.  Eice  soon  afterwards  retired  to  Pitts- 
burg.  Thus  the  faithful,  obedient  creature  was  disposed  of  to 
answer  the  requirements  of  a  business  controversy,  and  "  Lord 
Byron  "  dwells  only  in  the  shades  of  memory. 

"  The  pig/'  said  Colonel  Eice  in  later  years,  "  is  by  no  means 
the  most  stupid  of  animals,  and  there  have  been  Learned  Pigs  in 
all  ages.  The  quality  of  the  pig,  on  which  I  mainly  relied  in 
performing  Lord  Byron  was  his  extreme  acuteness  of  hearing. 
Few  animals  have  such  keen  ears.  The  noise  of  snapping  one 
finger  nail  against  another  was  distinctly  intelligible  to  the  crea 
ture  and  conveyed  to  his  brain  a  distinct  idea,  to  which  he  in 
stantly  responded  when  the  cards  were  reached,  that  answered 
the  questions  that  were  propounded." 

The  miniature  enterprise  consisting  of  the  Pig  Show  had  been 
the  means  of  giving  Mr.  Eice  a  self-confidence  that  he  could  not 
have  gained  under  better  auspices,  as  long  as  he  had  determined 
to  adapt  his  talents  to  this  form  of  entertainment  as  a  feature  of 
his  future  professional  career;  therefore,  his  aspirations  were  en 
couraged  by  his  previous  successes  and  he  sought  recognition 
among  the  better  class  of  managers,  who  filled  the  profession 
with  the  best  talent  they  could  obtain.  With  his  youthful  mind 
filled  with  high  hopes  of  success,  he  made  arrangements  to  leave 
Pittsburg  and  go  to  Philadelphia,  which  city  would,  in  all  prob 
ability,  afford  better  opportunities  for  a  desirable  opening.  In 
taking  this  step,  the  results  proved  very  satisfactory  to  our  hero, 
for  in  October  of  1841,  he  began  an  engagement  with  Phineas 
Taylor,  the  uncle  of  P.  T.  Barnum,  in  Masonic  Hall  on  Chestnut 
Street.  The  exhibition  was  called  the  "  Battle  of  Bunker  Hill/' 
and  showed  a  number  of  life-like  figures  engaged  in  combat.  It 
was  an  ingenious  mechanical  contrivance,  illustrating  the  scene 
of  the  battle  with  historical  accuracy.  Mr.  Eice's  part  in  this 
show  was  to  do  "feats  of  strength,"  comic  songs,  and  dances. 
On  the  same  evenings,  in  the  Chinese  Museum  on  Sansom  Street 


BEMINISCEXCES    OF    DAN    KICE"  69 

above  Ninth,  he  would  sing  in  character  accompanied  by  the 
.superior  talent  of  Miss  Rose  Shaw.  This  accomplished  lady,  who 
is  an  old  friend  of  Mr.  Rice's,  afterwards  became  Mrs.  Charles 
Howard,  and  later  Mrs.  Harry  Watkins;  her  husband  being  the 
well-known  actor  and  playwright  of  that  name.  She  was  the 
youngest  of  the  well-known  and  talented  Shaw  family  who  origi 
nally  came  from  England,  and  is  also  the  sister  of  Josephine 
Shaw,  the  theatrical  star  who  afterwards  became  Mrs.  John  Hoey. 
When  the  Shaw  family  first  came  to  this  country,  they  were  em 
ployed  by  Mr.  Rice's  father,  Daniel  McLaren,  to  entertain  the 
guests  of  the  famous  Pavilion  Hotel  and  Gardens,  at  Saratoga, 
of  which  he  was  the  owner  and  proprietor.  Gen.  Winfield  Scott 
and  others  of  national  reputation  heard  them  sing  there.  The 
family  consisted  of  three  sisters  and  a  brother. 

Mr.  Rice  made  a  decided  success  in  this,  his  first  paid  profes 
sional  engagement,  and  after  two  weeks  he  was  asked  to  go  to 
the  Walnut  Street  Theatre  where  Howe's  Circus  was  perform 
ing.  "  Uncle  Nathan  "  Howe,  S.  B.  Howe's  elder  brother,  sent 
Mr.  Rice  word  that  he  wanted  an  interview,  and  that  young 
gentleman  lost  no  time  in  obeying  the  summons  at  the  first  op 
portunity.  After  a  few  preliminaries,  "  What  about  those  feats 
of  strength  of  yours,"  asked  Uncle  Nathan,  "  are  you  really  very 
strong?"  Mr.  Rice  answered  readily  that  he  thought  he  was. 
"  Have  a  chew?  "  Uncle  Nathan  asked,  passing  to  Mr.  Rice  some 
tobacco,  and  keeping  his  eye  all  the  while  fixed  on  the  young 
athlete's  modest  face.  Young  Rice  responded  in  the  negative; 
he  did  not  chew  tobacco. 

"  How  much  a  week  do  you  want?  "  was  the  old  gentleman's 
next  question. 

"  Fifty  dollars,"  was  the  reply;  and  it  was  a  large  sum  of  money 
in  those  days. 

"  Can  you  wrestle  ?  "  asked  Uncle  Nathan. 

"  1  am  considered  somewhat  of  a  wrestler,"  said  Mr.  Rice. 

"  Well,"  the  old  gentleman  went  on,  "  if  you  can  throw  Joe 
Gushing,  I'll  engage  you  for  the  circus  for  fifty  dollars  a  week." 
That  stipend  was  a  consideration  worth  risking,  so  the  arrange 
ments  with  Mr.  Howe  were  completed  by  Mr.  Rice  accepting  on 
those  terms.  The  news  that  young  Rice  was  going  to  test  his 
prowess  in  the  ring  with  the  great  fighter  and  sidehold  wrestler 
of  Howe's  Circus  was  soon  noised  abroad  among  the  attaches.  On 
the  occasion  in  question.  Gushing  and  Rice  were  attired  in 
wrestling  costume  and  exhibited  before  a  large  audience,  con 
sidering  there  was  no  charge  and  no  time  to  advertise.  The 
first  fall,  side-hold,  Rice  won,  to  everybody's  great  surprise,  and 
that  settled  the  issue  satisfactorily  to  Uncle  Nathan  and  he  en 
gaged  Mr.  Rice  according  to  agreement  for  two  weeks.  In  re- 


70  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

gard  to  Gushing,  it  should  be  stated  that  his  imprudent  habits 
had  for  the  time  being  impaired  his  physical  strength,  and  his 
condition,  when  he  took  part  in  the  contest,  contributed  largely 
to  making  it  a  failure  for  him.  Mr.  Rice's  Philadelphia  engage 
ments  proved  a  drawing  card  before  metropolitan  audiences,  and 
when  he  finished  his  contract  with  Phineas  Taylor,  he  engaged  to 
go  to  Barnum's  Museum  in  New  York,  at  the  corner  of  Broadway 
and  Ann  Street,  at  a  salary  of  fifty  dollars  per  week. 

There  was  a  dearth  of  attractions  at  the  Museum  at  that  time, 
as  Joyce  Heth  was  dead,  and  Tom  Thumb,  the  mermaid,  and  the 
Fiji  had  not  yet  been  discovered;  and  Mr.  Taylor  was  making 
strenuous  efforts  to  educate  his  nephew,  Mr.  Barnum,  to  be  a 
showman;  and  it  was  Mr.  Taylor  who  engaged  Mr.  Barnum's  peo 
ple  and  advised  him  generally  in  those  days.  Mr.  Rice  reached 
the  Museum  the  last  week  in  December,  1841,  and  after  the  pre 
liminaries  regarding  terms,  benefits,  etc.,  were  settled,  in  which 
Mr.  Barnum's  well-known  aptness  in  bargaining  shone  conspicu 
ously,  something  like  the  following  conversation  ensued:  "  You 
say  that  besides  all  this,  you  can  support  upon  your  breast  a  barrel 
of  water?"  asked  Mr.  Barnum.  "Yes,  sir."  "Well,  then,  as 
the  old  routine  feats  of  pulling  against  horses,  breaking  hempen 
ropes  of  thirty-six  strands,  etc.,  etc.,  have  been  exhausted  by  the 
French  Monsieurs  hereabouts,  we  will  have  to  make  the  most  of 
your  extempore  songs,  negro  acting,  and  water  carrying.  Of 
course  you  can  support  a  puncheon  as  well  as  a  barrel  ?  " 

"  How  pray  '  of  course  '  ?  "  asked  Mr.  Rice.  "  A  puncheon  is 
twice  as  heavy  as  a  barrel." 

"  You  are  green,"  said  Mr.  Barnum.  "  It  is  easy  enough.  If 
you  can  lift  a  barrel  filled  with  water,  you  can  lift  a  barrel 
empty?" 

"  Of  course. 

"  Well,  supporting  an  empty  barrel  will  be  no  greater  exertion 
than  to  support  an  empty  puncheon — no  ganger  will  officiously 
take  the  measurements  of  the  cask.  In  fact  a  pipe  of  126  gallons 
will  tell  so  much  better  than  a  hogshead  of  63  gallons  that  we  may 
as  well  try  the  whole  hog." 

"  But  you  forget,,  Mr.  Barnum,  that  it  will  be  necessary  to  call 
for  assistance  from  the  audience  to  place  the  pipe  upon  me  and 
they  would  smell  the  cheat  in  an  instant." 

"  Intolerable  verdancy!  I  fear  you  are  too  soft.  Listen!  We 
will  have — let's  see — four  men  did  you  say  were  necessary  to  lift 
a  barrel  of  water?  We  will  have  at  least  ten  of  our  employees 
seated  among  the  audience,  dressed  each  night  in  different  guise, 
so  that  when  a  call  is  made  for  assistance,  they  will  after  a  little 
persuasion  and  exhibition  of  natural  diffidence,  good-naturedly 
step  forth,  and  never  be  recognized  as  having  done  the  same 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  71 

manoeuvre  the  previous  evening.  This,  too,  will  furnish  us  with 
a  couple  of  men  to  put  on  top  of  you  and  eight  more  for  an 
effective  tableau.  There's  nothing  like  piling  it  on  thick." 

"  Well,  Mr.  Barnum,  I  am  green,  and  you  are  a  genius!  "  ad 
mitted  Mr.  Eice.  The  next  day  but  one,  Barnum's  posters,  al 
ways  interesting,  even  in  the  greatest  dearth  of  novelties,  loomed 
up  with  unwonted  brilliancy  as  follows: 

AMERICAN  MUSEUM! 

Corner  of  Broadway  and  Ann  Street, 

P.  T.  Barnum,  Proprietor  and  Manager. 

DAN    EICE, 
THE  YOUNG   AMERICAN   HEECULES, 

Having  executed  his  twelve  labors  west,  and,  like  another  ALEX- 
ANDEE,  sighing  for  another  labor  to  achieve,  makes  his  debut 
here  this  evening  in  his  entire  round  of  novel  characters;  As  the 

VIEGINIA    NEGRO! 

He  acts  the  negro  so  naturally  as  to  shame  Simon-Pure  Darkeys, 
so  miserably  do  they  look  the  negro  in  comparison.  He  will 
sing  a 

BUDGET  OF  COMIC   SONGS! 

Founded  upon  matters  and  things  occurring  through  the  day,  and 
which  as  well  as  his  negro  songs,  will  be  extempore.  He  will  im 
provise  in  metrical  notes  upon  any  subject  the  audience  may  sug 
gest,  and  conclude  with  his  "  ASTOUNDING  FEATS  OF  HEE- 
CULEAN  STRENGTH!  "  which  have  never  been  and  probably 
never  will  be  accomplished  by  any  other  man,  and  have  a  parallel 
only  in 

SAMSON'S  CARRYING  OFF  THE  GATES  OF  GAZA! 

in  which  he  will  support  a  pipe  of  126  gallons  of  water,  with  two 
men  standing  thereupon  on  his  breast;  a  weight  so  great  that  it 
requires  ten  men  with  handspikes  to  raise  the  vast  vessel  to  its 
desired  position." 

The  whole  of  this  was  surmounted  by  a  large  wood-cut,  repre 
senting  Mr.  Eice  in  the  required  position,  surmounted  by  a  pun 
cheon,  two  men  and  eight  subordinates,  with  capstan  bars,  who 
were  supposed  to  have  raised  up  the  puncheon  to  a  level  with  Mr. 
Rice's  breast.  Great  was  the  excitement  in  Gotham  and  inces- 


72  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

sant  the  demand  for  tickets.  The  audience  was  enchanted  when 
our  young  Hercules  performed  to  the  letter  all  the  difficult  parts 
promised  of  him,  and  Mr.  Barnum  began  to  retrieve  his  reputa 
tion  for  this  once  in  exhibiting  precisely  what  he  advertised  with 
out  any  disjointed  drawback.  The  second  night  the  house  was 
even  more  thronged  and  Barnum  was  elated  beyond  measure, 
congratulating  himself  not  a  little  at  his  success  in  driving  such 
a  close  bargain  with  the  "  green  Yankee  "  boy  who  was  engaged 
"  for  six  nights  only,"  with  the  provisionary  clause  for  as  many 
more  as  "  the  said  Barnum  might  desire  upon  the  same  terms." 

The  third  and  fourth  nights  the  public  seemed  to  be  elated  with 
excitement,  and  Barnum  already  projected  an  enlargement  of  the 
lecture-room  to  accommodate  the  hundreds  that  were  nightly 
turned  away,  "  to  his  great  regret  that  they  should  be  deprived  of 
such  an  extraordinary  sight,  particularly  as  Mr.  Eice  remained 
but  two  nights  more,  positively." 

On  the  fifth  night  an  unusually  brilliant  audience  was  assem 
bled,  and  many  who  did  not  favor  a  theatre  under  any  circum 
stances  made  a  compromise  with  their  consciences  and,  under  the 
name  of  a  "  museum  saloon,"  made  their  appearance  and  wit 
nessed  a  performance  theatrical  in  every  phase,  except  theatrical 
talent.  Loud  cheers  greeted  Mr.  Eice  when  the  curtain  arose, 
and  were  so  long  continued  that  he  became  weary  of  forcibly 
bowing  his  acknowledgments,  and  almost  forgot  the  subject  that 
had  been  sent  from  the  audience  for  him  to  improvise  on.  But 
he  caught  the  inspiration  from  the  surroundings  and  sent  forth 
in  mellow  measure  his  adroit  innuendoes  at  everyone  and  every 
thing  in  general,  with  a  review  of  the  "  on  dits  "  of  the  day. 
When  Mr.  Eice  appeared  in  character  the  audience  could  scarcely 
realize  that  it  was  the  same  fine-looking  performer  who  had  left 
their  presence  so  recently,  and  were  inclined  to  think  it  was 
another  hoax  imposed  upon  them  by  the  irresistible  Barnum, 
until  the  character  created  shouts  of  laughter  by  indulging  in  an 
abandon  that  they  easily  recognized  as  the  handiwork  of  the  same 
artist. 

But  it  was  when  the  curtain  arose  for  his  appearance  as  Her 
cules  that  the  excitement  was  most  intense.  His  entire  salary 
for  the  week  had  been  expended  upon  fancy  tights,  scarf  and 
sandals  for  this  chef  d'ceuvre  of  feats,  and  many  an  artist's  eye 
scanned  critically  the  perfection  of  his  proportions  and  his  mus 
cular  and  symmetrical -limbs.  A  huge  pipe  was  discovered  in  the 
background,  with  levers  through  ropes  slung  around  it.  A  digni 
fied  bow  and  look  of  calm  superiority  preceded  his  gracefully 
throwing  himself  backward  into  a  bending  position  upon  his 
hands  without  taking  his  feet  from  the  floor.  Then  a  pale  youth 
in  tinselled  Turkish  garb  appeared  and  desired  "  ten  strong  men 


KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICK 

to  assist  in  lifting  the  pipe."  After  a  little  natural  dalliance 
ten  men  were  reluctantly  persuaded  to  overcome  their  bashful- 
ness  and  win  the  gratitude  of  the  audience  by  stepping  forth. 
With  measured  tread,  accompanying  the  hand-organ  in  the  win 
dow,  they  proceeded  to  take  hold  of  the  levers.  Every  nerve  was 
apparently  strained  to  the  utmost,  and,  the  perspiration  breaking 
from  their  faces,  they  managed  finally  to  raise  the  pipe  to  a 
plane  with  Mr.  Rice's  breast.  Gradually,  and  with  great  effort, 
they  lowered  it  carefully  until  it  rested  upon  him,  threatening 
to  crush  him  to  the  floor.  At  first  he  bent  under  the  immense 
weight,  as  with  one  hand  they  steadied  it,  until  he  gradually 
became  accustomed  to  the  burden,  while  with  the  other  hand 
they  brushed  away  the  evidence  of  extreme  exertion  from  their 
faces. 

Soon  his  strength  reacted,  and  his  body,  that  had  at  first 
swayed  with  the  weight,  was  observed  to  recover  its  equilibrium 
and  return  to  its  crescent  position.  The  levers  were  then  re 
moved,  and  the  audience  shouted  and  applauded.  Two  men, 
joining  their  hands  from  opposite  sides  over  the  pipe,  placed  one 
foot  on  the  recumbent  Hercules  and  simultaneously  rose  to 
gether,  standing  upon  him.  The  eight  subordinates  arranged 
themselves  in  an  effective  tableau,  leaning  on  their  levers,  four 
on  each  side  of  him,  their  frames  swelling  and  receding  with  the 
hard  breathing  consequent  upon  such  unusual  exertion.  The 
house  was  frenzied,  when,  horribile  dictu!  as  the  two  men  stepped 
down,  the  pipe  rolled  on  the  floor  with  an  empty  sound  which 
told  louder  than  words  that  there  was  not  over  five  gallons  of 
water  in  it. 

One  of  the  men  who  had  stood  on  his  breast,  in  getting  down, 
accidentally  put  his  foot  on  Mr.  Rice's  hand,  and  the  pain  caused 
him  to  flinch  and  throw  the  puncheon  out  of  balance.  The  bung 
had  not  been  inserted,  and  the  barrel  turned  so  far  over  that 
its  practical  emptiness  was  evident,  and  Mr.  Barnum  darted  out 
to  stop  the  rolling  of  the  telltale  pipe,  exclaiming,  "  By  thunder! 
I'm  sold!  " 

The  audience  surmised  at  once  the  state  of  the  case,  and  re 
turned  home  to  laugh  over  this  exposure,  while  Mr.  Barnum  put 
out  the  lights,  ruminating  upon  the  old  adage,  "  There's  many  a 
slip,  etc."  The  next  morning  at  ten  o'clock  a  new  poster  an 
nounced  that 

MR.  DAN  RICE, 

In  consequence  of  temporary  indisposition, 

WILL  NOT  APPEAR 

at  the  American  Museum 

UNTIL  FURTHER  NOTICE! 


74  EEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    EICE 

Mr.  Barnum  was  thoroughly  mortified  over  this  affair,  but  al 
ways  declared  that  the  property  men  failed  to  fill  the  pipe,  and 
were,  therefore,  to  blame  for  the  fiasco.  In  his  settlement  with 
Barnum  Mr.  Eice  declined  to  sign  a  receipt  in  full,  and  in  ex 
planation  he  reminded  that  gentleman  that  when  he,  Barnum, 
had  been  arrested  in  Pittsburg  a  year  or  two  previous  for  sur 
reptitiously  removing  his  own  luggage  from  the  Grant  House, 
Mr.  Rice,  then  in  the  livery  business,  had  come  to  Mr.  Barnum's 
rescue.  The  showman,  accompanied  by  a  celebrated  jig-dancer, 
Johnny  Diamond,  was  fined  seven  dollars,  the  hotel  bill  and 
costs,  in  Squire  McMasters'  court.  Young  Rice  had  followed 
the  crowd  in  the  controversy  to  hear  the  proceedings,  and,  seeing 
Mr.  Barnum's  plight,  in  his  great-hearted,  good-natured  way,  he 
relieved  him  from  his  position  by  advancing  the  seven  dollars 
which  covered  the  amount  required. 

Mr.  Barnum  at  once  remembered  this  generous  act  when  Mr. 
Rice  alluded  to  it  in  New  York,  and,  handing  him  a  twenty- 
dollar  gold  piece,  remarked,  "  There,  my  boy,  there's  principal 
and  interest/'  Mr.  Barnum  was  anxious  to  re-engage  Rice,  but 
he  declined,  as  he  had  formed  a  new  engagement  which  would 
take  him  across  the  ocean  as  an  entertainer. 

Mr.  Winton,  an  amusement  agent,  was  in  the  States  at  that 
time  looking  after  the  united  interests  of  Jenny  Lind  and  Mr. 
Robert  L.  Fillingham,  the  English  purveyor.  While  looking 
around,  in  his  business  capacity,  he  saw  that  Mr.  Barnum  was 
fast  gaining  the  reputation  of  being  in  the  supremacy  in  the 
realm  of  his  pursuits,  and,  recognizing  the  fact  that  Jenny  Lind 
would  be  a  brilliant  star  in  this  venture,  he  went  to  Mr.  Barnum 
for  the  purpose  of  advancing  her  interests,  but  taking  great  care 
to  conceal  the  fact  that  he  was  her  special  agent.  He  made  a 
private  contract  to  secure  the  lady  if  Mr.  Barnum  would  advance 
him  ten  per  cent,  of  his  share  of  the  entire  gross  receipts,  to  which 
Mr.  Barnum  agreed,  and  thus  the  bargain  was  made  and  sealed 
as  Mr.  Winton  desired.  And  Barnum  failed  to  see  the  possibili 
ties  of  the  situation  until  it  was  too  late.  Mr.  Winton  thus  re 
ceived  a  double  percentage  by  his  shrewd  adjustment  of  the  cir 
cumstances.  It  was  at  this  same  period  that  he  engaged  Mr. 
Rice  in  the  interest  of  Mr.  Fillingham  for  twenty  weeks  at  one 
hundred  dollars  a  week,  including  his  expenses,  as  he  had  wit 
nessed  his  feats  of  strength,  etc.,  at  the  American  Museum,  and 
on  Mr.  Winton's  return  to  England  Mr.  Rice  accompanied  him  to 
fill  his  contract  with  Mr.  Fillingham. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  75 

CHAPTER    X. 

MR.  RICE'S  ARRIVAL  IN"  EUROPE — COMMENCES  A  STARRING 
TOUR — FLATTERING  ATTENTION  PAID  "THE  YOUNG  AMERI 
CAN  HERCULES  " — CORDIALLY  RECEIVED  BY  PATRONS  AT  THE 
FOREIGN  CAPITALS — PERSONALLY  INTERVIEWED  BY  KING 
WILLIAM  OF  PRUSSIA— QUEEN  ISABELLA'S  FAVORITE — HER 
DEMOCRATIC  INTRIGUES — WARNED  BY  THE  AMERICAN  CON 
SUL  TO  LEAVE  BARCELONA — A  SHIP  DETAINED  SO  THAT 
THE  ERRATIC  SOVEREIGN'S  LATEST  CAVALIER  MIGHT  RETURN- 
IN  SAFETY  TO  NEW  YORK — MR.  RICE'S  RETURN  FROM 
EUROPE — COMMENCES  A  TOUR  IN  THE  UNITED  STATES — DIS 
PLAYS  FEATS  OF  STRENGTH  IN  NEW  YORK  IN  1842,  AND 
VISITS  OTHER  CITIES  THROUGHOUT  THE  COUNTRY — AN  IN 
GENIOUS  INCIDENT  CONNECTED  WITH  A  MEMBER  OF  THE 
LEGISLATURE  AT  HARRISBURG — CONTINUED  SUCCESSES  IN 
DIFFERENT  PLACES  OF  AMUSEMENT. 

OUR  young  hero  was  now  fairly  launched  upon  the  sea  of 
success,  and  the  name  he  had  sought  in  so  many  unsuccess 
ful  efforts  was  at  last  in  his  possession,  and  his  life  from  this  time 
on  was  destined  to  be  a  continuous  round  of  applause  that  fol 
lowed  him  on  both  sides  of  the  Atlantic.  No  future  effort  that 
he  made,  when  once  he  became  recognized  in  the  world  of  enter 
tainment,  but  unfolded  a  wealth  of  advantage  for  his  almost 
charmed  life.  Experience  enriches  with  practical  lessons  every 
phase  in  life,  and  creates  an  education  by  its  own  contrasts  with 
out  the  preparatory  accomplishments  of  theory;  but  when  both 
are  combined,  a  precocious  mind  is  fortified  for  the  inevitable 
obstacles  that  are  strewn  in  the  path  of  life's  destiny.  Thus  it 
proved  in  the  life  of  Dan  Rice  in  the  subsequent  adventures  that 
gave  breadth  to  his  developing  character  and  enlarged  his  views 
by  critical  contrasts.  After  perfecting  his  plans  for  his  journey, 
Mr.  Rice,  in  company  with  Mr.  Winton,  sailed  from  New  York 
to  England  early  in  1842,  and  spent  five  months  in  giving  his 
entertainment  in  London  and  other  important  cities,  and  also  in 
Edinburgh,  Glasgow,  and  Dublin.  He  spent  some  time  in  Paris, 
and  also  visited  Alenna,  Berlin,  Madrid,  and  Barcelona.  It  was 
at  the  last  series  of  exhibitions  in  Barcelona  that  Mr.  Rice  at 
tracted  the  favor  of  that  remarkable  woman,  Queen  Isabella  of 
Spain,  that  personage  then  being  in  the  first  flush  of  her  charms. 
Barcelona  was  reached  in  the  early  autumn,  and  was  the  last  city 


76  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

on  the  tour.  No  American  entertainer  had  as  yet  had  the  hardi 
hood  to  visit  the  country  of  the  hidalgos,  and  the  arrival  of  Mr. 
Rice  created  the  nearest  approach  to  a  sensation  of  which  the 
stately  demeanor  of  the  nation  was  capable.  On  the  occasion  of 
the  opening  night  Queen  Isabella  came  to  the  Royal  Theatre,  as 
it  was  her  custom  to  do  on  "  first  nights,"  and  occupied  the  royal 
box.  Perhaps  her  intriguing  propensities  were  in  this  instance 
employed  for  the  purpose  of  improving  the  personnel  of  her 
army,  for  she  was  ever  on  the  alert  for  recruits  of  stalwart  phy 
sique  and  handsome  personal  proportions.  In  young  Rice  she 
seemed  to  think  she  had  found  an  additional  attraction.  The 
applause  from  the  royal  box  during  the  performance  was  an 
unusual  incident  which  attracted  universal  attention,  and  the 
audience  therefore  applauded  more  vigorously.  Assuming  one 
character  after  another,  the  young  American  looked,  in  every 
instance,  the  roles  he  impersonated  of  Hercules,  Ajax,  Apollo, 
and  Milo,  and  the  next  morning  all  Barcelona  was  commenting 
on  the  appearance  of  the  young  athlete  and  his  exhibitions.  After 
the  curtain  had  fallen  on  the  evening's  pleasure  Mr.  Rice  was 
summoned  to  the  royal  box  and  presented  to  the  queen.  She  re 
ceived  him  most  graciously,  and  was  disposed  to  question  him  as 
to  his  family,  his  history,  and  his  marvellous  strength,  which  she 
declared  she  desired  tested  in  private.  In  arranging  the  hour  for 
the  private  interview  she  presented  to  Mr.  Rice  a  rose  from  her 
corsage  bouquet,  requesting  him  to  keep  it  until  they  met  again. 
The  meeting  was  not  long  deferred,  for  scarcely  had  Mr.  Rice 
arrived  at  his  hotel  before  an  equerry  from  the  royal  apartments 
was  announced,  with  an  invitation  for  him  to  come  to  the  queen 
and  partake  -with  her  at  lunch.  He  prepared  himself  for  the 
occasion,  for  such  an  invitation  from  such  a  source  was  tanta 
mount  to  a  command,  and  on  his  arrival  was  surprised  to  find  that 
the  lunch  party  consisted  only  of  Queen  Isabella  and  himself. 
The  lady,  after  dismissing  her  private  attendants,  received  her 
guest  with  a  democratic  simplicity  rarely  revealed  under  similar 
circumstances  on  this  side  of  the  Atlantic;  therefore  Mr.  Rice 
was,  in  a  short  time,  as  much  at  ease  as  if  he  were  being  enter 
tained  by  one  of  his  own  countrywomen.  Her  English,  though 
defective,  was  not  unintelligible,  while  Mr.  Rice's  Spanish  con 
sisted  merely  of  expressive  gesticulation.  The  situation  being 
entirely  unsought  on  the  part  of  Mr.  Rice,  was  a  source  of  private 
amusement  to  his  venturesome  undertaking,  but  the  lady  did  not 
close  the  interview  until  after  the  early  morning  hours  had  ad 
vanced,  when  she  herself  summoned  the  equerry  to  reconduct 
her  new  favorite  to  his  hotel.  Mr.  Rice  was  as  verdant  as  any 
young  man  of  his  age  who  had  led  his  adventurous  life  could  be, 
but  he  did  not,  in  his  wildest  dreams,  aspire  to  posing  in  the  eyes 


11EM1NISCEXCES    OF    DAN    RICE  77 

of  the  Spanish  people  as  even  an  ally  to  royalty.  The  next  even 
ing,  and  still  the  next,  he  was  summoned  to  lunch  with  Isabella, 
and  sat  in  her  boudoir  partaking  of  the  tempting  viands,  listen 
ing  to  her  Castilian  English  and  indulging  in  private  comments 
as  to  the  object  of  this  curious  woman,  the  first  in  the  realm,  in 
conducting  herself  on  such  democratic  principles  that  were  so 
foreign  to  the  demands  of  court  life.  But  historical  revelations 
have  since  solved  the  problems  of  this  human  enigma,  at  which 
the  eyes  of  all  Europe  have  looked  with  undisguised  scorn.  The 
queen  was  a  good  judge  of  wine,  but  with  all  her  efforts  at  in 
triguing  she  could  not  succeed  in  persuading  Mr.  Eice  to  take 
anything  stronger  than  coffee,  as  he  informed  her  that  it  inter 
fered  with  his  feats  of  strength,  and  he  was  obliged  to  keep  in 
training.  The  results  were  invariably  the  same  at  each  inter 
view,  and,  when  she  dismissed  him,  she  summoned  the  same 
equerry  to  conduct  her  guest  to  his  hotel  in  a  carriage.  On  the 
morning  of  the  fourth  day  after  the  exhibition  at  Barcelona  Mr. 
Rice  was  surprised  to  receive  a  personal  call  from  the  American 
consul,  who  invited  him  to  drive  to  the  consulate.  When  that 
gentleman  first  entered  Mr.  Bice's  apartments  his  face  wore  an 
anxious  expression,  as  if  he  would  not  have  been  surprised  to 
find  our  hero  missing,  and  he  so  expressed  himself.  In  the 
course  of  conversation  with  the  young  performer  at  the  consulate 
he  remarked,  "  You  would  not  like  an  army  life  here,  I  think." 
"  I  do  not  think  so,"  said  Mr.  Rice  in  reply.  "  Well,"  continued 
the  gentleman,  "  judging  from  what  I  have  heard  about  the  fate 
of  Queen  Isabella's  favorites,  an  army  life  is  about  the  most  agree 
able  thing  that  ever  befalls  them.  Sometimes  they  are  not  seen 
again  after  their  consignment  to  the  military  ranks.  Listen  to 
my  advice,  which  I  hope  you  will  act  upon,  for  it  may  save  you 
from  serious  complications.  The  Espanola,  a  Spanish  ship  bound 
for  New  York,  is  to  sail  to-morrow.  I  will  see  her  captain  and 
use  my  influence  to  have  her  hold  over  until  you  can  arrange 
your  affairs  to  sail  home  on  her.  Don't  you  think  you  had  better 
do  it?  "  There  was  some  disposition  on  the  part  of  Mr.  Rice  to 
evade  the  responsibilities  of  his  position,  as  he  had  formed  an 
other  appointment  with  her  majesty,  but  wisely  considering  the 
advice  of  the  consul,  he  closed  his  performance  that  night  and 
sailed  the  next  morning,  without  apprising  any  one  of  his  inten 
tions,  the  arrangement  having  previously  been  consummated  by 
the  consul  for  an  urgent  passenger.  So  ended  an  international 
romance. 

Queen  Isabella  at  that  period  was  a  stout  and  rather  fine-look 
ing  young  woman,  with  a  penchant  for  bestowing  gifts  upon  those 
whom  she  favored.  Upon  persuading  Mr.  Rice  to  accept  some 
token  from  her,  he  selected  only  a  heavy  braided  silken  fillet, 


78  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

which  was  used  in  tying  her  abundant  black  hair.  All  other 
gifts,  both  costly  and  rare,  which  she  persistently  thrust  upon 
him,  he  invariably  refused,  but  the  fillet  he  kept  for  a  short  time 
as  a  memento.  The  lady's  tender  recollections  of  Mr.  Rice, 
which  he  also  shares,  will  be  shown  later  on  in  the  circus  experi 
ence. 

Queen  Isabella  was  not  the  only  sovereign  who  manifested  a 
personal  interest  in  Mr.  Rice.  King  William  of  Prussia,  after 
ward  the  beloved  Emperor  of  Germany,  while  on  a  visit  to  the 
Austrian  court,  on  the  occasion  of  Mr.  Rice's  opening  in  Vienna, 
attended  the  exhibition  and  sat  in  the  royal  box.  He  sent  for 
the  hero  of  those  herculean  feats  of  strength  after  the  perform 
ance,  and  inquired  personally  if  he  really  did  raise  two  thousand 
one  hundred  pounds  dead  weight  or  whether  it  was  all  a  trick, 
to  all  of  which  questions  it  was  a  pleasure  for  Mr.  Rice  to  reply. 
And  we  may  safely  judge  that  he  was  becomingly  elated  when 
the  king  and  his  private  officers  admired  his  physical  proportions 
and  commented  freely  on  the  athletic  performances  in  which  he 
Is  bored  to  excel. 

The  wily  intrigues  of  the  Spanish  queen  being  foiled  by  the 
timely  intervention  of  our  worthy  American  consul,  Mr.  Rice 
arrived  in  New  York  in  due  time  without  any  further  adventure, 
and  having  occasion  to  feel  grateful,  as  he  has  since  expressed, 
for  his  fortunate  escape  from  a  bondage  that  would  probably 
have  resulted  seriously. 

About  this  time  the  arrival  in  the  United  States  of  M.  Paul, 
the  French  Hercules,  directed  popular  attention  specially  toward 
manifestations  of  physical  prowess.  Mr.  Rice's  whole  life  and 
training  had  tended  to  make  him  one  of  the  strongest  men  of  his 
time,  a  discovery  he  had  not  been  slow  to  make,  and  his  reputa 
tion  as  a  modern  Hercules  was  now  established  in  Europe  as  well 
as  in  America,  and  he  adapted  himself  accordingly.  The 
"  Learned  Pig  "  tour  had  given  him  the  zest  of  popular  applause, 
the  love  of  being  with  and  among  people,  a  social  characteristic 
even  to  the  present  time,  and  he  had  become  an  adept  in  manag 
ing  public  assemblies,  no  mean  coadjutor  in  the  success  of  show 
men. 

So,  on  his  return  to  New  York,  he  retraced  the  ground  over 
which  he  had  passed.  Thousands  who  had  suspected  collusion 
between  the  "  Learned  Pig  "  and  its  master  would  rush  to  see 
the  same  youth  pull  against  four  horses,  particularly  as  the  per 
mission  contained  in  the  bills  that  the  audience  might  furnish 
the  horses  precluded  the  possibility  of  an  illicit  understanding. 
Other  similar  feats  now,  from  their  frequency,  exciting  little 
surprise,  were  then  exposed  first  to  the  bewildered  eyes  of  the 
public. 


RICE    IN    COSTUME    OF    STAI5S    AND    STUIPES    AT    NEW    ORLEANS,    1861 


EEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  79 

His  old  employer,  Phineas  Taylor,  still  had  his  "Battle  of 
Bunker  Hill "  show  in  Broadway,  and  prevailed  upon  Mr. 
Eice,  immediately  upon  his  arrival  in  New  York,  to  play  an  en 
gagement  of  two  weeks,  which  he  did  successfully  to  crowded 
houses. 

On  his  tour  west  from  the  metropolis  he  had  a  remarkable  ad 
venture  at  Harrisburg.  The  legislature  was  in  session,  and  a 
highly  exciting  political  debate  engrossed  so  completely  public 
attention  that  his  exhibition  did  not  draw.  Even  the  introduc 
tion  of  a  set-to  with  George  Kensett,  the  famous  pugilist,  who 
was  sojourning  for  a  few  days  at  the  Pennsylvania  capital,  did 
little  toward  replenishing  his  coffers.  The  next  day,  when  the 
vexatious  debate  had  reached  his  climax,  in  which  personal  in 
vective  made  a  resort  to  arms  not  improbable,  and  a  few  lessons 
from  Eice  and  Kensett  not  undesirable,  the  hotels  and  corridors 
were  plastered  with  a  placard  announcing  "  to  the  citizens  of 
Harrisburg  and  the  members  of  the  legislature,  another  exhibi 
tion  of  the 

NOBLE  AND  MANLY  AET  OF  SELF-DEFENCE! 
Interspersed  with  Songs,  Comic,  Ethiopian,  and  Sentimental, 

to  be  concluded  with  a 
PASSAGE   AT   AEMS   AND    SET-TO 
Between  Mr.  Eice  and  the  Distinguished 
MEMBEE  OF  THE  LEGISLATUEE! 

Who  desires  his  name  to  be  withheld  until  he  enters  the  lists, 
when  of  course  all  will  recognize  him,  and  learn  those  most  un 
pleasant  circumstances  which  have,  in  his  opinion,  rendered  it 
his  duty  to  resort  to  the  practice  and  learning  of  this  mode  of 
warfare." 

What  the  singer  and  boxer  could  not  do  the  "  distinguished 
member  of  the  legislature  "  did  do — he  filled  the  house  to  over 
flowing.  Members  of  both  houses  of  legislation  and  politicians 
anticipated  some  rich  exposure,  from  the  hints  thrown  out  in 
the  placard.  A  resolution  was  almost  carried  tendering  to  the 
two  distinguished  boxers  the  use  of  the  assembly  chamber  for  the 
proposed  sparring  exhibition.  The  hall  was  crowded  to  its  ut 
most  capacity  with  ladies  longing  to  see  the  handsome  "  Her 
cules  " — and  dreaming  of  the  days  of  chivalry  and  tournament. 
The  politicians  came,  more  out  of  curiosity  than  anything  else, 
to  see  what  member  of  the  legislature  was  going  to  make  a  spec- 


80  REMINISCENCES    OP    DAN    RICE 

tacle  of  himself.     The  programme  was  carefully  gone  through 
down  to  the  last  act,  viz: 

A  SET-TO  BETWEEN  A  MEMBER   OF  THE  LEGISLA 
TURE  AND  MR.  DAN  RICE. 

Here  of  course  the  whole  audience  were  upon  the  qui  vive. 
After  a  few  moments,,  which  suspense  magnified  into  an  hour, 
Mr.  Rice  stepped  forth  attired  in  the  most  approved  fashion,  and, 
after  bowing,  with  a  glance  around  the  room,  stood  as  if  in  ex 
pectation.  Soon  he  assumed  an  indignant  mien  and,  stepping 
toward  the  audience  with  another  bow  and  with  the  air  of  an 
injured  man,  said: 

"  Ladies  and  Gentlemen:  I  had  trusted  that  at  this  late  mo 
ment  the  coming  forward  of  the  gentleman  whose  appearance  was 
announced  this  morning  would  save  me  from  the  humiliating 
necessity  of  making  an  apology.  Though  surprised  at  his  non- 
appearance  when  the  entertainment  began,  I  trusted  he  was  for 
tifying  himself  for  the  set-to  and  would  now  redeem  his  engage 
ment.  I  did  not  believe  a  man  who  enjoyed  the  confidence  of  the 
citizens  of  one  of  the  richest  counties  in  the  State  would  conde 
scend  to  practise  this  vile  imposition  upon  you  and  upon  me. 
Such  unworthy  conduct  shall  not  succeed,  and  if  he  is  now  among 
you,  I  warn  him  to  retrieve  himself  by  coming  to  the  scene  of 
action  at  once,  or  impose  the  humiliating  self-infliction  of  apolo 
gizing  to  the  audience." 

Here  a  dozen  voices  shouted  "His  name!  His  name!"  "Give 
us  his  name!  " 

Then  continued  Mr.  Rice: 

"Ladies  and  Gentlemen,  have  charity  enough  to  hope  he  is 
ill,  or  has  been  unexpectedly  called  away,  and  therefore  I  must 
beg  of  you  the  indulgence  of  being  permitted  to  withhold  his 
name  until  to-morrow  morning.  Then,  if  he  does  not  see  fit  to  ac 
count  to  you  forthwith  for  this  strange  proceeding,  I  pledge  you 
my  word  and  honor" — here  followed  a  deferential  bow  that 
would  make  the  fortune  of  an  office-seeker  or  dancing  master — 
"  to  publish  his  name.  What  more  than  this  to  say  I  do  not 
know.  I  have  been  cruelly  deceived,  and  am  overwhelmed  with 
my  painful  situation." 

"  No  matter,  Dan; "  "  Publish  the  rascal  to-morrow,  Dan,"  and 
"  Serve  him  right,"  "  Don't  "be  frightened,  Mr.  Rice  "  (from  a 
lady),  "  We  are  all  satisfied,"  proceeded  simultaneously  from  half 
the  people  present,  and  all  arose  and  noiselessly  left  the  room, 
wondering  who  could  be  the  recreant  member. 

That  night  a  dozen  choice  spirits  from  both  houses  of  the  legis 
lature,  who  for  several  days  before  had  thrown  aside  politics  and 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  81 

deserted  their  seats,  on  discovering  the  mine  of  fun  Mr.  Rice 
afforded,  were  speechless  with  laughter  when  our  hero  explained, 
what  the  reader  had  doubtless  expected,  that  the  honorable  mem 
ber  of  the  legislature  existed  only  in  his  imagination,  and  was 
an  ingenious  device  to  procure  the  means  for  such  suppers  as 
they  were  then  eating.  The  next  morning,  of  course,  the 
story  went  broadcast,  and  the  laughter  on  all  sides,  like  oil  upon 
water,  arrested  the  angry  discussions  among  the  sages  at  the 
Capitol. 

The  tour  thereafter  was  successful,  and  Mr.  Eice  played  in  the 
Pittsburg  Theatre,  owned  by  the  Simpsons;  in  Shire's  Garden, 
managed  by  William  Shire;  in  Cincinnati,  on  the  site  of  what  is 
now  the  Burnet  House;  in  Louisville,  at  the  Jefferson  Street 
Theatre;  in  St.  Louis  at  Ludlow  &  Smith's  old  St.  Louis  Theatre, 
and  so  also  to  Quincy,  Nauvoo,  and  the  Western  circuit. 


CHAPTER   XL 

RICE  AS  A  REVIVALIST— HIS  ADVENT  AMONG  THE  MORMONS — 
ASSUMES  THE  ROLE  OF  PREACHER  AND  MAKES  CONVERTS 
FOR  THE  FAITHFUL — JOSEPH  SMITH'S  MIRACLE  AND  HOW 
MR.  RICE  DEFEATED  IT — MR.  RICE  NARROWLY  ESCAPES  EX 
TREME  MEASURES  AT  THE  HANDS  OF  CITIZENS  OF  MONTROSE 
—DIFFICULTIES  ADJUSTED  BY  A  HAPPY  COMPROMISE — CON 
TROVERSY  BETWEEN  MR.  RICE  AND  SMITH  REGARDING 
FINANCIAL  SETTLEMENT — THE  MORMON  PROPHET  WALKING 
ON  THE  WATER — LUDICROUS  RESULTS — MR.  RICE  AGAIN  A 
SHOWMAN — POSES  AS  A  MESMERIST — HYPNOTIZES  A  HOSTLER 
AND  THUS  DEFEATS  A  RIVAL — THE  NOVEL  WAY  IN  WHICH 
HE  PAID  HIS  LICENSES  AT  DAVENPORT  AND  ROCK  ISLAND 
—AMUSING  SEQUEL. 

"VTAUVOO,  ILL.,  the  home  of  the  Mormons,  was  then  in  its 
-LN  palmy  days,  and  some  ten  thousand  souls  were  held  in 
spiritual  subjection  by  the  "prophet,"  and  at  this  place,  Mr.  Rice 
rightly  calculated,  was  an  abundant  field  for  his  labors.  He 
argued,  reasonably  enough,  that  in  a  community  where  the  trans 
parent  pretexts  of  Joseph  Smith  were  swallowed  with  avidity,  his 
apparently  superhuman  accomplishments  might  well  make  him 
f  am  OUR,  particularly  as  the  lucky  thought  occurred  to  him  that 
he  and  Smith  would  make  a  pretty  strong  team  professionally. 
Joseph  Smith  readily  grasped  at  a  chance  for  a  new  miracle,  now 
6 


82  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

that  his  old  dodges  had  become  somewhat  stale,  and  his  flock 
thirsted  for  some  new  manifestations  of  divine  partiality.  He 
easily  yielded  to  Mr.  Rice's  terms  for  a  copartnership,  which 
involved  an  equal  distribution  of  the  spoils  arising  from  the  con 
nection,  and  it  was  not  hard  to  demonstrate,  to  such  an  in 
genious  schemer  as  Smith,  that  they  could  be  made  something 
handsome. 

Mr.  Rice  did  not  demur  to  the  stipulation  in  the  arrangements 
that  the  elect  should  redound  to  the  sole  use  and  behoof  of  the 
"  prophet/'  as  he  had  received  sufficient  evidence  that  such  was 
the  intention  of  the  proprietor  of  the  Nauvoo  mansion,  of  which 
the  "  prophet "  was  the  landlord,  and  in  that  way  Mr.  Rice  was 
enlightened,  as  he  was  constantly  with  him.  But  what  were 
those  remarkable  feats  of  strength  which  were  heralded  to  the 
elect  as -miracles?  Mr.  Smith  was  too  old  a  practitioner  to  be 
caught  with  flimsy  material;  besides,  he  would  not  enter  into  this 
compact  without  testing  Mr.  Rice's  powers  in  private,  to  which 
exhibition  of  his  skill  he  was  perfectly  willing.  At  the  rehearsal 
in  the  presence  of  the  "  prophet "  two  horses  were  called  into  use, 
and  were  unable  to  dislodge  "  The  Modern  Samson "  from  a 
workbench  upon  which  he  had  hastily  fastened  himself;  nor  could 
the  "  prophet "  break  with  a  sledge  the  back  doorstep  of  stone 
which,  with  the  assistance  of  his  wife,  he  managed  to  place  on 
Mr.  Rice's  abdomen  as  he  extended  himself  on  all  fours.  The 
"  prophet "  was  in  ecstasies,  which  were  by  no  means  lessened 
by  our  hero's  catching  up  the  tongs  as  he  again  entered  the  room 
and,  on  his  bare  arm,  bending  the  double  irons  into  a  semicircle. 
This  last  feat  Mr.  Rice  threw  in  for  effect,  and  Smith  and  his 
wife,  in  alarm,  began  to  intercede  for  the  rest  of  the  furniture, 
not  doubting  but  that  he  would  pull  the  building  down  about 
their  heads.  Here  was  a  California  mine  for  Smith,  out  of  which 
he  would  be  able  to  replenish  his  exhausted  treasury,  impose  a 
tax  in  a  less  obnoxious  form  than  a  direct  levy,  and  rivet  his  hold 
on  the  blind  confidence  of  the  people  in  a  manner  that  would 
thereafter  make  it  blasphemy  to  question  his  direct  communica 
tion  with  the  Almighty. 

In  two  hours,  as  might  have  been  expected  with  two  such  able 
projectors,  their  plans  were  matured.  It  was  noised  about  that 
the  morrow  would  bring  a  new  and  still  more  imposing  evidence 
of  the  "prophet's"  divine  endowments — that  a  poor  wayfarer 
had  been  guided  by  the  spirit  to  go  to  him  and  say,  "  Behold 
your  unworthy  servant!  The  Spirit  has  admonished  me  at 
divers  times  and  in  sundry  places  to  proceed  to  the  '  prophet ' 
of  the  faithful  and  submit  myself  to  his  guidance.  Moreover, 
the  Spirit  commands  me  to  say,  '  In  me  shall  be  fulfilled 
miracles!  And  whatsoever  thou  commandest  thy  servant  to  do, 


•REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE  83 

even  to  the  performance  of  acts  impossible  to  man,  it  shall  be 
done/  r- 

The  "  prophet "  himself  proclaimed  from  the  foot  of  the  tem 
ple,  which  had  already  progressed  above  its  foundations,  that  at 
12  o'clock  the  next  day  this  ministering  agent  from  the  Al 
mighty  would  appear  as  an  humble  instrument  for  the  manifesta 
tion  of  divine  power,  to  encourage  the  faithful  in  their  labor  on 
the  temple,  and  that  all  the  city  on  such  a  memorable  occasion 
should  contribute  twenty-five  cents.  Mr.  Eice  here  quietly  sug 
gested  to  Smith  the  advisability  of  admitting  children  at  half- 
prico.  "  Children,  too,"  the  "  prophet "  added,  after  a  little 
hesitation,  "  might  be  imbued  with  the  holy  spirit,  upon  the 
contribution  of  twelve  and  a  half  cents,  and  come  in  to  see  these 
miracles." 

Dense  was  the  throng  in  front  of  the  temple  as  the  hour  ap 
proached.  On  his  way  up  from  the  tavern  Mr.  Eice  observed 
that  all  the  houses  appeared  to  be  disgorging  their  occupants; 
from  this  he  foresaw  a  harvest  that  would  mark  a  new  era  in  his 
financial  affairs,  to  say  nothing  of  Smith's  spiritual  career.  The 
"  prophet's  "  Council  meanwhile,  prudently  unaware  of  the  pro 
posals  of  the  prophetic  humbug,  marked  his  mysterious  prepara 
tions  with  anxiety.  The  ladies  eyed  him  askance,  and  without 
any  hesitancy  openly  admired  his  manly  proportions  and  muscu 
lar  appearance.  The  thousands  of  spectators  who  gathered, 
awaiting  with  breathless  interest  the  phenomenon,  were  prepared 
to  see  any  improbable  miraculous  manifestation,  even,  almost,  to 
the  descent  of  Jehovah  himself  in  a  cloud  of  flame.  A  storm 
hovered  portentously  over  the  horizon  as  the  crowd  proceeded, 
in  awe,  to  deposit  their  quarters  in  the  "  Baptismal  Font,"  hewn 
out  of  solid  stone  and  guarded  by  the  "  prophet "  himself.  This 
financial  operation  finished,  Mr.  Eice  and  the  "  prophet "  stepped 
forth  together;  a  deep  silence  prevailed,  uninterrupted  even  by 
the  cries  of  the  children,  who  could  be  counted  by  hundreds, 
their  deluded  parents  trusting  that,  perchance,  they  might  brush 
the  hem  of  the  divine  agent's  garments. 

A  hundred  willing  workmen,  at  the  "  prophet's  "  command, 
brought  forth  a  ladder,  trestles,  and  a  pair  of  dray  horses  which 
had  been  in  use  in  the  construction  of  the  temple. 

The  ladder,  being  firmly  fastened,  horizontally,  to  the  trestles, 
with  Mr.  Eice  extended  at  full  length,  his  hands  and  feet  firmly 
fixed  on  the  rungs,  the  horses  were  attached  to  a  rope  which 
Smith  had  brought  coiled  about  his  arm,  and  which  was  now 
adjusted  to  the  shoulders  and  the  loins  of  this  new  proselyte 
to  Mormonism.  At  the  signal  the  powerful  horses  extended 
their  traces  and,  leaning  in  their  collars,  made  a  noble  effort  to 
tear  Mr.  Eice  from  his  fastenings,  which,  it  is  hardly  necessary 


84  EEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    EICE 

to  say,  they  would  have  succeeded  in  doing  had  they  not  been 
compelled  to  pull  at  a  disadvantage. 

But  for  the  awe  that,  at  the  manifestation  of  the  spirit,  con 
strained  them,  the  whole  mass  would  have  fallen  down  and  wor 
shipped  the  "  prophet/7  who  was  supposed  to  have  conferred  this 
great  power  upon  the  young  man. 

At  another  command,  a  score  of  hands  were  extended  with 
alacrity  to  place  a  building  stone  upon  Rice's  breast  as  he  as 
sumed  the  familiar  position,  and  a  pair  of  stalwart  mechanics 
soon  broke  the  stone  into  fragments  with  their  ponderous  sledges. 
Then,  shaking  off  the  debris,  he  nimbly  resumed  his  upright  posi 
tion,  the  rocks  rolling  from  him  on  either  side. 

In  another  moment  a  bar  of  inch  iron  was  brought  from  the 
smithy  of  the  temple  and  bent  nearly  double  across  the  naked  arm 
of  the  youthful  giant,  protected  as  it  was  by  the  knotted  muscles, 
now  contracted  in  rigid  tension. 

With  the  same  expedition  a  strong  rope  was  detached  from  the 
hoisting  tackle  used  in  the  temple,  one  end  secured  around  a 
vast  pile  of  building  stone  and  the  other  to  Mr.  Rice,  as  he  again 
extended  himself  on  the  ladder,  still  firmly  resting  on  trestles. 
Rung  by  rung,  he  slowly  advanced  in  this  hempen  collar  until, 
reaching  the  far  end  of  the  ladder,  the  rope  could  stretch  no 
more,  and  parted  like  flax. 

This  was  the  climax  to  the  day's  wonders,  and  the  infatuated 
crowd  returned  to  their  houses  to  commune  about  the  miracles 
and  glorify  their  "  prophet."  Mr.  Rice,  with  Smith,  repaired  to 
the  sanctum  of  the  latter  in  the  hotel,  where  the  receipts  of  the 
exhibition  had  been  previously  sent,  but  which  had  mysteriously 
diminished  since  being  deposited  in  the  font,  so  Mr.  Rice  thought. 
He  received  for  his  share  six  hundred  dollars,  not,  however,  with 
out  being  obliged  to  threaten  the  "  prophet "  with  a  little  private 
exhibition  of  his  strength  for  pretending  to  compute  the  half  of 
twelve  hundred  to  be  five  hundred.  The  evidence  of  Rice's 
powers  that  day  had  been  too  palpable  to  permit  Smith  long  to 
persist  in  such  a  dangerous  mathematical  error. 

From  this  moment  the  "  prophet "  perceived  that  Mr.  Rice  was 
a  shining  light  who  could  not  be  dispensed  with  in  his  cabinet 
especially,  for  the  "  prophet "  found  that  he  could  not  only  sing 
a  capital  song  and  crack  jokes  by  the  hour,  which  no  one  enjoyed 
better  than  Smith,  but  he  could  also  preach  with  a  zeal  and 
fervor  that  was  calculated  to  bring  hundreds  into  the  fold  of 
this  great  shepherd.  At  the  same  time  they  commenced  a  run 
ning  account  of  money  and  sentiment,  in  which  Rice,  indeed, 
was  imprudent  enough  to  suffer  himself  to  be  the  greatest  cred 
itor,  with  the  ultimate  hope  that  by  some  coup  de  main  he  could 
aspire  to  the  same  exalted  position  as  was  enjoyed  by  his  able 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  85 

coadjutor.  For  lie  was  now  sure  of  the  unlimited  control  he 
could  easily  gain  over  this  body  of  fanatics.  Feigned  revela 
tions  were  daily  made  in  connection  with  occult  practices  that 
would  have  consigned  him  to  the  stake  in  the  reign  of  Xew 
England  witchcraft,  and  in  these  he  brought  to  bear  an  intimate 
knowledge  of  chemistry  and  of  legerdemain,  as  well  as  tact  in 
controlling  an  audience. 

It  was  not  long  before  Smith  began  to  apprehend  serious  re 
sults  following  Mr.  Rice's  increasing  influence,  and  thought  it 
expedient  to  dispatch  him  on  a  pilgrimage  to  Iowa,  to  make 
proselytes,  under  the  plausible  pretext  that  no  one  else  could 
undertake  the  task  with  such  a  prospect  of  achieving  it.  Mr. 
Rice  met  with  great  success  in  his  role  as  preacher  until  he 
reached  Montrose,  just  across  the  river  from  Xauvoo.  There 
he  performed  his  "  miraculous  feats  of  strength  "  after  a  sermon, 
which  made  a  powerful  sensation. 

But  several  St.  Louis  merchants,  who  were  returning  from 
the  Eastern  States,  where  they  had  witnessed  M.  Paul's  perform 
ances,  exposed  the  pretended  Mormon's  miracles.  This  so  ex 
asperated  the  crowd,  many  of  whom  had  subsequently  assisted 
in  driving  the  Mormons  out  of  the  State  of  Missouri,  as  Governor 
Reynolds'  murder  had  been  charged  to  their  account,  that  in  the 
short  time  required  for  such  proceedings  in  that  country  a  suffi 
ciency  of  tar  and  feathers  and  a  reasonably  angular  rail  were 
prepared.  Our  hero's  danger  was  most  imminent.  He  was  in 
the  hands  of  those  who  felt  no  particular  compunctions  about 
administering  such  doses  on  account  of  his  assumed  clerical  ap 
pearance.  The  multitude  surrounded  him  too  effectually  to 
afford  any  prospect  of  success  in  an  attempt  at  flight.  He  felt 
that  he  could  overpower  a  dozen  of  the  strongest,  but  to  be  vic 
torious  with  a  multitude  would  be  a  veritable  hecatomb.  His 
active  mind,  cool  even  during  these  intimidating  proceedings, 
at  once  decided  that  tact  and  ingenuity  alone  could  save  him. 
Confidence  in  himself  imbued  him  with  courage  to  trust  to  diplo 
macy.  "  Let  me  sing  you  a  song,"  he  shouted,  "  and  afterward 
do  your  pleasure  with  me! "  Being  thus  urged,  they  halted  in 
their  proceedings.  "  A  song  from  the  Mormon,  a  song  from  the 
preacher!  "  was  satirically  echoed  on  every  side. 

Mounting  the  top  of  the  tar  barrel,  so  as  to  obtain  a  view  of  the 
whole  assemblage — for  in  the  disturbance  he  had  been  forced 
from  his  temporary  pulpit — he  commenced  improvising  a  comic 
song,  narrating  with  such  irresistible  humor  how  he  had 
duped  the  Mormons,  and  dwelling  so  pathetically  upon  his 
ridiculous  situation,  that  long  before  he  had  hoped  to  succeed 
the  whole  multitude  joined  with  him  in  the  singing,  each  person 
having  already  mentally  decided  to  forgive  him.  The  music  and 


bG  KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

the  rhythm  were  probably  not  so  mellifluous  as  the  extempore 
songs  with  which  he  has  since  regaled  his  audiences.,  but  were  the 
more  effective  upon  his  rough  auditors  for  being  so  unpolished. 
An  eyewitness  now  residing  in  Keokuk  describes  the  scene  as 
most  exciting.  Each  man  present,  unconscious  of  the  determina 
tion  of  his  neighbor  to  save  the  recent  object  of  their  vengeance, 
began  to  feel  almost  as  much  concern  as  Mr.  Rice  himself  had 
lately  felt.  But  Eice,  however,  who  could  read  their  faces,  and 
had  already  discovered  his  safety  in  their  plaudits,  ceased  singing 
for  a  moment  to  tell  them,  if  they  would  carry  away  that  ugly 
rail,  barrel  of  tar,  and  basket  of  feathers,  he  would  give  them  an 
extempore  show. 

There  was  no  disguising  the  fact  that  they  had  a  jolly  time, 
and  the  people  dispersed  pleased  with  the  performance,  and 
Mr.  Eice  with  a  feeling  of  gratitude  that  his  tact  had  preserved 
him  from  the  humiliating  ordeal  that  so  nearly  proved  being  a 
reality.  This  episode,  happening  so  near  Nauvoo,  must,  in  the 
course  of  events,  reach  the  Mormon  "  prophet "  very  soon,  so 
Mr.  Eice  crossed  the  river  at  once  and  hastened  to  Smith's  house 
to  demand  a  settlement,  not  only  of  money  loaned,  but  of  his 
salary  as  preacher  at  fifty  dollars  per  month  and  expenses.  His 
pretext  for  the  settlement  was  the  auspicious  opening  to  make 
a  new  start  and  gain  converts  along  the  borders  of  Missouri  and 
Iowa.  Mr.  Eice  subsequently  learned  that  Smith  had  been  prac 
tising  many  expedients  during  his  absence  to  regain  his  tottering 
sway  as  the  only  worker  of  miracles.  One  of  these  was  to  be  per 
formed  on  some  indefinite  morning  yet  undecided,  when,  at  sun 
rise,  he  was  to  walk  for  fifty  yards  on  the  waters  of  the  Mississippi. 
Mr.  Eice  found  the  Mormon  prophet  ready  to  receive  him  on 
his  arrival.  Little  averse  to  a  rupture  with  our  hero  now  that 
he  had  advertised  a  miracle  to  be  performed  by  himself,  Smith, 
on  this  occasion,  carried  his  false  computations  into  practice  with 
success,  and  cheated  Mr.  Eice  shamefully  in  that  settlement. 
But  as  he  could  not  hope  to  meet  Smith  alone  and  secure  a  proper 
adjustment,  he  was  fain  to  express  himself  satisfied  with  the  por 
tion  of  the  consideration  offered  by  Smith,  determining  eventu 
ally,  however,  to  get  even.  This  idea  of  walking  on  the  water, 
had  been,  in  fact,  a  plan  of  Mr.  Eice's,  suggested  by  him  to  the 
prophet  on  his  first  arrival,  and  was  to  be  effected  by  the  con 
struction  of  a  narrow,  raised  gangway  of  planks  placed  ankle-deep 
under  the  water  so  as  not  to  be  detected,  and  he  had  no  doubt 
but  that  sudh  was  the  way  in  which  Smith  proposed  to  accomplish 
this  newly  advertised  miracle.  Early  in  the  afternoon  of  the 
day  preceding  that  finally  decided  upon  for  the  feat  to  be  ac 
complished,  Mr.  Eice  was  ferried  over  to  Montrose,  ostensibly  on 
his  mission  to  Missouri.  In  the  course  of  the  night,  however. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    1UCE  87 

he  returned  stealthily,,  and  with  a  skiff  rowed  out  into  the  river, 
and,  groping  where  the  platform  was  laid,  took  up  and  carried 
away  a  section  of  thirty  feet  from  the  shore.  The  next  morning, 
in  his  high-priestly  robes,  the  prophet  walked  out  to  the  river 
brink  in  the  presence  of  an  immense  concourse  of  people.  The 
great  miracle  was  again  announced  with  imposing  ceremony,  and 
he  started  out  to  walk  on  the  water.  The  crowds  of  people  from 
the  entire  city  had  been  waiting  patiently  since  early  dawn  in 
eager  anticipation.  Mr.  Eice,  far  out  in  the  stream,  and  in  dis 
guise,  sat  in  a  small  boat  watching  the  ceremonies.  It  had  been 
originally  arranged  between  Eice  and  Smith  that  the  prophet 
should  walk  out  thirty-five  paces,  counting  as  he  went,  so  as  not 
to  come  to  the  end  of  the  submerged  gangway  unexpectedly. 
Confidence  was  apparent  on  his  visage  as  the  prophet  made  his 
thirtieth  step,  when  the  section  Mr.  Eice  had  eliminated  failed  to 
support  his  holy  feet  and  he  went  down  into  the  depths  of  the 
icy  flood.  A  universal  shout  of  surprise  went  up  from  the  crowds 
on  the  shore,  but  Mr.  Rice's  peals  of  laughter  were  distinctly 
audible  as  he  rowed  back  to  Montrose.  The  Mormon  prophet 
being  speedily  rescued  by  his  followers  from  his  perilous  situa 
tion,  he  suffered  the  humiliation  of  having  this  so-called  miracle 
exposed  by  the  practical  joke  of  a  man  who  had  taken  desperate 
chances  of  opening  the  eyes  of  a  deluded  following  to  a  sense  of 
the  hallucinations  under  which  they  were  laboring  for  the  ag 
grandizement  of  their  peculiar  religious  calling. 

On  escaping  from  his  Mormon  surroundings,  Rice  the  preacher 
became  a  showman  again  and  took  the  first  boat  down  the  Mis 
sissippi  to  the  town  of  Quincy,  111.  Here,  after  engaging  the  hall 
over  a  cooper  shop  which  had  been  prepared  for  amateur  per 
formances,  he  dispensed  with  his  conventional  garb  and  donned 
the  necessary  paraphernalia  for  his  legitimate  business.  In  vain, 
however,  did  he  put  out  his  most  attractive  bills  and  insert  the 
most  glowing  cards  in  the  weekly  journal,  for  Professor  Boone- 
ville  was  lecturing  there  on  Animal  Magnetism,  and  engrossed 
the  public  attention.  The  first  night  our  hero's  audience  con 
sisted  merely  of  himself,  his  doorkeeper  and  fiddler,  three  families 
who  had  complimentary  tickets,  and  a  ragged  urchin  who  had 
begged  in  at  half-price. 

At  this  rate  the  season  was  likely  to  be  most  disastrous  in  a 
financial  way  and  his  inventive  genius  was  sorely  taxed  to  coun 
teract  the  "  Magnetic  Booneville  "  current  so  strongly  set  in 
against  him,  so  the  following  day  the  village  was  thrown  into 
unusual  excitement.  The  streets  were  placarded  with  an  an 
nouncement  that  Mr.  Rice,  in  addition  to  his  already  ad 
vertised  feats  to  numerous  to  mention,  which  were  performed 
to  the 


88  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

"DELIGHTED   ELITE! 

Of  Quincy  last  night,  will  to-night 

EXPOSE   MESMERISM! 

And  the  charlatanism  of 

PROFESSOR  BOONEVILLE, 

And  by  a  new  science,,  much  more  wonderful  and  practical 
than   ANIMAL   MAGNETISM 

Make  in  one  minute  a 
PAIR  OF  SHOES   WORTH   ONE  DOLLAR! " 

Consternation  seized  the  professor  and  great  was  the  excite 
ment  among  the  beau  monde.  At  seven  o'clock  Mr.  Rice's  doors 
were  thronged.,  and  at  half-past  seven  he  had  the  pleasure  of  see 
ing  the  professor  himself  come  down  the  street  and  buy  a  ticket, 
a  sure  evidence  that  this  time  it  was  the  professor's  turn  to  have 
deserted  rooms.  After  a  running  address,  with  practical  illus 
trations  and  herculean  feats,  he  proceeded  to  say: 

"Ladies  and  Gentlemen:  I  have  prefaced  my  evening's  enter 
tainment  with  a  selection  of  novelties  that  I  see  you  are  pleased 
with,  but  as  humbugging  is  all  the  rage,  I  could  not  finish  the 
evening  without  giving  you  a  spice  of  its  quality.  I  am  now 
about  to  make  a  pair  of  shoes  in  one  minute,  worth  a  dollar." 

He  produced  a  pair  of  boots,  cut  them  off  at  the  ankle,  and, 
making  an  incision  down  the  front,  with  a  punch  made  holes  and 
placed  strings  therein,  all  the  while  talking. 

Which  operation  being  completed,  he  held  them  up  to  the 
inspection  of  the  audience  with  the  remark,  "  And  I  appeal  to 
you  if  I  have  not  so  far  redeemed  the  pledge  I  made  in  the  bills 
this  morning?  I  will  proceed  to  expose  human  magnetism. 
Come  here,  Patrick/'  This  summons  was  addressed  to  the 
hostler  of  the  Quincy  House,  who  was  Booneville's  best  subject, 
whom  Mr.  Rice  had  bribed  during  the  day  for  two  dollars,  twice 
the  amount  the  professor  gave  him.  A  sensation  was  per 
ceptible  in  the  professor,  as  well  as  in  the  audience,  when  Patrick, 
who  was  well  known,  stood  up.  Pat  had  been  unquestionably 
magnetized  by  the  professor,  and  was  not  cunning  enough  to  con 
spire  with  anybody.  When  Mr.  Rice  placed  him  upon  the  stage 
he  had  not  yet  settled  in  his  mind  how  he,  Rice,  would  ridicule 
the  professor's  science,  but  trusted  to  his  wits,  which  had  never 
yet  failed  to  get  him  creditably  out  of  a  dilemma.  After  a  few 
preliminary  passes  and  manipulations,  done  precisely  as  he  had 
seen  Booneville  do,  Pat  closed  his  eyes  and  was  pronounced 


BEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE  89 

asleep.  Then  in  imitation  of  the  professor,  Mr.  Rice  went 
through  many  amusing  evolutions,  himself  surprised  more  than 
any  one  else  at  Pat's  ready  obedience  and  in  a  quandary  as  to  the 
successful  ending  of  the  burlesque.  He  was  half  inclined  to 
believe  himself  that  he  had  somehow  unconsciously  imbibed  this 
subtle  and  mysterious  power.  Causing  Pat  to  follow  his  hand 
slowly  backward  and  forwards  over  the  stage,  while  collecting 
his  now  really  disturbed  thoughts,  his  eye  caught  the  stove  in  the 
miniature  orchestra  at  the  bottom  of  the  stage,  to  which  there 
were  no  footlights.  Walking  quietly  that  way  with  the  Irishman 
still  following  the  extended  finger,  he  stepped  noiselessly  one 
side  when  in  a  straight  line  with  the  stove.  In  an  instant  Pat 
was  precipitated  upon  it  with  a  tremendous  crash.  Eubbing  his 
cheeks  and  his  hands  which  were  smarting  with  the  burns  as  well 
as  his  ribs  with  the  fall,  Patrick,  to  his  inexpressible  relief,  threw 
the  audience  into  convulsions  by  exclaiming,  "  Be  Jabers,  I 
wasn't  asleep  at  all,  at  all." 

With  a  look  of  defiance  at  Mr.  Rice  he  rushed  from  the  house 
in  high  dudgeon  and  in  the  midst  of  vociferous  shouts. 

It  seems  the  honest  Irishman  thought  it  necessary,  in  order  to 
earn  his  two  dollars,  to  feign  sleep  when  he  found  it  would  not 
come  in  the  usual  way.  He  had  been  able  to  obey  Dan's  signals 
with  his  eyes  closed  by  recollecting  the  rules  of  the  professor,  in 
such  cases  made  and  provided,  whom  Mr.  Rice  imitated  exactly, 
until  in  walking  down  the  stage  he  depended  too  implicitly  upon 
the  hitherto  faithful  ear.  Then  followed  his  startling  fall,  and 
the  fiasco  got  Rice  out  of  his  predicament.  Of  course  this  started 
a  tide  of  ridicule  which  the  professor  could  not  stem,  and  his 
departure  the  next  day  left  Mr.  Rice  in  sole  possession  of  the  field. 

His  next  adventure  on  his  tour  was  his  famous  visit  to  the 
beautiful  village  of  Davenport  on  the  upper  Mississippi,  in  Iowa, 
which  was  then  a  territory.  His  inimitable  social  qualities  soon 
made  him  the  favorite  of  Mr.  Miller,  the  prominent  merchant 
of  the  village,  as  well  as  the  courteous  host  of  La  Claire  House, 
and  also  formed  the  friendship  of  La  Claire,  a  noted  Indian 
chief  who  resided  in  that  place.  The  friendship  contracted  with 
these  gentlemen,  as  well  as  with  other  prominent  citizens  of  the 
town,  has  always  been  preserved  with  mutual  pleasure,  and  to-day 
their  descendants  are  as  marked  in  their  approval  of  the  rare  per 
formances  of  the  Dan  Rice  of  later  years  as  their  ancestors  were 
in  the  scenes  of  his  struggles  in  those  early  days. 

On  the  occasion  of  his  visit  here,  Mr.  Rice  advertised  an  exhi 
bition  which  filled  the  dining-room  of  the  hotel.  Generous  liv 
ing,  however,  made  heavy  demands  upon  his  purse,  and  his  in 
debtedness  already  equalled  the  aggregate  of  his  receipts,  and  still 
there  was  yet  the  license  to  pay.  The  license  that  was  imposed, 


90  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

he,  in  common  with  the  community,  thought  exorbitant,  and  it 
was  a  question,  indeed,  whether  it  could  be  demanded  for  the 
kind  of  exhibition  he  proposed  to  give.  Therefore  he  felt  in 
clined  to  resist  the  payment,  but  if  the  collector  felt  disposed,  as 
he  did,  to  enforce  it,  then  Mr.  Rice  felt  equal  to  the  emergency 
by  indulging  in  a  little  pardonable  temporizing  to  evade  it;  there 
fore,  on  various  pretexts,  payment  of  the  license  had  been  post 
poned  until  the  performance  was  over. 

On  returning  to  the  hotel  and  making  an  estimate  of  his  re 
sources,  he  found  it  necessary  to  put  off  either  his  hotel  or  license 
bill.  To  relieve  himself  of  the  perplexity,  which  an  argument 
of  the  matter  would  have  involved,  he  paid  his  hotel  bill  aiid  sent 
for  the  ferryman  who  plied  between  Davenport  and  Rock  Island. 
To  him  he  agreed  to  give  two  dollars  and  a  half  if  he  would  have 
his  boat  ready  at  the  shore  all  night  to  ferry  him  across  at  a  mo 
ment's  notice.  As  soon  as  the  collector  suspected  that  Mr.  Rice 
intended  to  evade  payment,  he  placed  in  the  hands  of  the  con 
stable  a  warrant  for  his  arrest  for  exhibiting  without  a  license. 
Rice,  under  the  guise  of  subterfuge,  told  the  constable  that  he 
would  remit  him  the  money  from  Rock  Island,  where  he  was  an 
nounced  to  exhibit  the  next  evening,  but  the  constable  demurred 
and  prepared  to  arrest  him.  Mr.  Rice  stepped  back  a  pace  and, 
warning  the  officer  not  to  approach  him,  shouldered  his  carpet 
bag,  which  had  been  previously  packed,  and  walked  out  of  the 
door  as  the  crowd  in  the  rear  made  way  for  him.  The  constable 
called  on  all  good  citizens  to  assist  him  in  arresting  a  man  who  was 
"  resisting  the  law,"  but  as  all  had  witnessed  his  "  feats  of 
strength  "  at  the  exhibition,  no  one  was  willing  to  expose  him 
self  to  the  encounter.  A  colossal,  two-fisted  countryman,  to 
whom  a  more  direct  appeal  was  made  by  the  constable,  replied 
with  indignation,  "  Do  you  suppose  I  want  to  touch  a  Samson?  " 

Mr.  Rice  rejected  the  intervention  of  his  friends  who  proposed 
to  go  on  his  bail,  and  persisted  in  making  his  way  to  the  river,  a 
short  distance  away.  The  crowd  followed  him  down  to  the 
boat,  accompanied  by  the  constable  who  was  inclined  to  keep  at 
a  respectful  distance  from  Mr.  Rice,  for  he  had  turned  to  him 
when  he  thought  he  encroached  too  near  with  the  threatening 
inquiry  whether  "  he  expected  to  breakfast  in  the  bosom  of  his 
family  or  in  that  of  Father  Abraham's,  on  the  morrow?" 

In  this  way  he  reached  the  river  where  the  faithful  boatman 
was  ready  with  his  oars.  But  even  here  the  posse  could  not 
muster  the  courage  to  rush  upon  him,  so  he  stepped  deliberately 
in  the  boat,  deposited  his  baggage  in  the  bow,  adjusted  his  dress, 
removed  his  hat,  and,  bidding  adieu  to  his  friends  whose  faces 
be  recognized  in  the  moonlight,  he  made  a  sardonic  speech  to  the 
collector  and  his  coterie.  The  crowd  enjoyed  the  discomfiture 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  91 

of  the  constable  and  the  bravery  of  the  showman  and  involun 
tarily  joined  in  prolonged  cheers  which  accompanied  Rice  half 
way  across  the  river. 

Much  anxiety  was  felt,  however,  about  the  safety  of  the  brave 
young  man;  indeed,  the  boatman  himself  declared  the  tide  was 
too  strong,  but  Mr.  Rice  coolly  informed  him  that  he  would  im 
pose  upon  him  the  penalty  of  drowning  if  he  did  not  proceed, 
so  the  manipulation  of  the  oars  was  conducted  at  once. 

At  Rock  Island  he  also  had  some  misgivings  as  to  whether  he 
could  again  evade  the  license,  but  the  news  of  his  victory  over 
the  Davenport  authorities  had  preceded  him  and  produced  un 
bounded  satisfaction,  so  great  was  the  rivalry  between  the  two 
places.  The  village  authorities  to  whom  he  applied  upon  the 
subject  of  lowering  the  license,  good-humoredly  replied  that 
"  their  minimum  price  was  twenty-five  dollars,  and  that  he  was 
at  liberty  to  play  them  a  trick,  as  he  did  in  Davenport,  if  he 
could."  This  set  his  wits  to  work,  and  was  an  incentive  to  spur 
him  on  again  to  escape  the  license,  even  though  the  receipts 
would  justify  him  in  the  payment  of  so  large  a  sum.  A  dozen 
different  versions  of  the  affair  on  the  opposite  side  of  the  river 
were  current,  and  he  was  the  absorbing  topic  of  the  day.  The 
excitement  increased  towards  night,  and  the  doors  of  Barrett's 
hotel  were  thronged  early  by  the  crowds,  and  the  authorities  had 
decided  that  he  must  pay  the  license  before  he  exhibited.  Mr. 
Rice  was  at  the  door,  collecting  the  admission  fees,  when  the 
collector  approached  him  with  the  license.  The  hallway  was 
full  of  people  going  in,  and  Mr.  Rice  said  to  the  officer,  "  All 
right,  sir;  step  in  and  take  a  seat  while  I  attend  to  these  people 
and  I  will  pay  you  before  the  performance  commences."  Sup 
posing  that  he  had  not  yet  rendered  himself  amenable  and  that 
he  intended  to  pay  the  license  out  of  the  money  he  was  then  re 
ceiving,  the  officer  passed  on  with  the  rest  and  took  a  seat,  wait 
ing  for  Mr.  Rice  to  notify  him  when  the  performance  was  to 
begin.  Mr.  Rice  had  discovered  that  the  rush  had  subsided,  or 
rather  that  he  was  precluded  from  taking  any  more  money  by 
the  room  being  already  filled  to  its  utmost  capacity.  He  asked  the 
officer  who  had  the  license  prepared  to  take  his  place  at  the  door 
a  moment  while  he  went  in  to  start  the  music  and  count  the 
money.  As  he  walked  from  the  door  through  the  side  aisle  with 
his  hat  under  his  arm,  the  audience  cheered  him  and  the  ladies 
were  at  once  captivated  by  his  appearance  and  enlisted  in  his 
favor.  As  he  passed  behind  the  blanket,  borrowed  of  Barrett 
for  a  curtain,  the  utmost  silence  prevailed  excepting  the  music 
of  the  orchestra,  which  consisted  of  one  violin  played  by  the  negro 
barber  of  the  town.  After  five  minutes'  breathless  suspense,  the 
more  daring  ventured  upon  a  few  thumps  with  their  canes.  The 


92  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

solitary  fiddler  scraped  with  redoubled  fury.  Stamping,  hand- 
clapping,  and  encouraging  cheers  soon  drowned  the  desperate 
din  of  the  lone  violin.  The  officer  at  the  door  peeped  in  to  see 
if  it  was  not  applause  greeting  Mr.  Rice's  initial  act.  Although 
he  thought  sufficient  time  had  passed  for  his  return,  still  he  did 
not  like  to  desert  the  responsible  post  with  which  he  was  en 
trusted.  At  this  moment  a  curious  little  boy  in  front  who  could 
not  resist  the  temptation  of  lifting  a  corner  and  peeping  behind 
the  curtain,  thrilled  the  audience  with  the  cry,  "  He  ain't  there!  " 
The  bird  had  flown;  every  one  suspected  the  joke  and  left  the 
room  with  but  one  idea  in  view,  that  of  reaching  home  before 
it  was  discovered  that  they  had  been  to  the  show.  The  fiddler, 
the  only  accomplice  Rice  had,  besides  the  ferryman,  hastened  to 
receive  the  two  dollars  he  was  to  have  in  the  event  of  the  show 
man's  safe  retreat,  forgetting  that  the  very  condition  of  his  agree 
ment  would  effectually  prevent  him  from  taking  any  steps  to  get 
his  money.  Mr.  Eice  had  thrown  his  carpet  bag  out  of  a  window 
upon  the  projecting  woodshed  in  the  rear  of  the  hotel  and  imme 
diately  followed  himself.  With  baggage  in  hand,  he  jumped 
from  the  shed  just  as  Barrett  was  passing  under  after  a  pitcher 
of  water.  Alighting  on  his  shoulders,  Barrett  was  thrown 
sprawling  upon  the  ground  and  the  pitcher  broken  in  fragments. 
As  Barrett  knew  that  Mr.  Rice  ought  to  be  above  stairs  amusing 
the  audience,  he  surmised  the  trouble,  and  gathering  himself  as 
soon  as  possible  made  chase  for  his  tavern  bill  and  room  rent. 
By  this  time  the  constables  were  in  Barrett's  train,  and  as  it  was 
dark  and  Rice  was  incommoded  by  his  carpet  bag  which  con 
tained  his  personal  effects,  and  by  the  ignorance  of  the  topog 
raphy  of  the  premises,  he  was  nearly  overtaken  when  he  went 
headlong  in  the  vault  of  a  neighboring  yard  and  the  whole  party 
"  came  tumbling  after  "  just  as  he  managed  to  draw  himself  out 
of  the  slough.  Under  cover  of  this  diversion,  he  made  his  way 
to  the  ferryboat,  into  which  he  emptied  his  pockets  of  the  night's 
receipts,  and,  undressing,  he  tied  his  clothes  with  a  string  to  the 
side  of  the  boat,  and  so  in  puris  naturalibus  clung  outside  to  the 
rudder  as  the  trusty  ferryman  pushed  into  the  stream.  The  noise 
of  the  rowlocks  soon  attracted  the  ears  of  that  portion  of  his 
pursuers  who  were  in  a  condition  to  follow,  and  they  gave  chase 
to  the  river  in  full  cry,  supposing  that  he  was  concealed  some 
where  about  the  yards  and  could  not  elude  the  close  watch  set 
upon  him.  To  get  out  a  dozen  boats  in  pursuit  was  the  work 
of  only  a  few  minutes,  during  which  time  Mr.  Rice  seized  an  oar 
and  made  such  good  use  of  it  that  they  were  soon  in  close 
proximity  to  the  Davenport  shore.  His  object  was  to  present 
himself  openly  in  Davenport  and  win  the  forgiveness  of  its  citi 
zens  by  his  triumph  over  the  Rock  Island  authorities  who  had 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  93 

laughed  heartily  at  his  previous  day's  adventures.  But  it  would 
not  do  to  land  in  his  present  plight,  and,  before  he  would  have 
time  to  dress,  the  Rock  Island  flotilla  would  be  upon  him.  He 
saw  the  Illinois  shore  illuminated  with  lanterns  and  torches,  and 
a  part  of  his  pursuers  running  to  and  fro  in  wild  excitement  over 
the  supposition  that  the  boats  would  secure  him  and  bring  him 
back  to  Eock  Island.  Mr.  Rice,  taking  in  the  situation  at  a 
glance,  ceased  to  row,  and  the  ferryman  allowed  the  boat  to  go 
noiselessly  down  the  current  at  the  rate  of  five  miles  an  hour, 
until  six  miles  below  Eock  Island,  \vhere,  after  remunerating 
the  ferryman  for  his  trouble,  he  landed  at  a  wooded  shore  alone, 
arranged  his  toilet  and  made  his  way  to  Grand  Detour,  with  one 
star  only  for  his  guide.  As  he  had  not  performed  at  Eock  Island 
he  could  not  have  been  compelled  to  pay  the  license. 

For  several  years  afterwards  any  of  the  villagers  would  have 
risked  a  coat  of  tar  and  feathers,  in  either  of  these  localities,  by 
inquiring  how  Dan  Eice  got  rid  of  the  license,  and  in  a  high- 
spirited  manner  did  they  bandy  jeers  and  taunts  at  each  other 
across  the  water  for  being  so  easily  outwitted.  When  Mr.  Eice 
had  become  the  owner  of  a  circus,  which  was  in  reality  an  estab 
lishment  worth  patronizing,  and  when  he  was  no  longer  reduced 
to  the  necessity  of  giving  leg-bail  to  license  collectors,  the  arrival 
in  that  part  of  the  world  of  his  advance  agent  created  an  excite 
ment  that  threatened  to  suspend  all  the  ordinary  occupations  of 
the  inhabitants.  Another  generation  had  partly  grown  up,  who, 
with  the  recent  settlers  had  so  often  heard  the  story,  that  they 
began  to  look  upon  Dan  Eice  as  Bluebeard  or  some  other  fabulous 
personage.  The  victims  had  not  before  suspected  that  the  Dan 
Eice  of  their  troubles  was  the  athletic  clown  of  whom  they  had 
heard  and  read  so  much.  The  affair  was  more  interesting  as  Mr. 
Eice  had  instructed  his  agent  to  publish  at  Davenport  that  again 
he  would  "  dodge  the  license,"  and  no  one  doubted  but  that  he 
would  carry  his  threat  into  execution.  As  Chief  La  Claire,  how 
ever,  tendered  him  the  use  of  a  beautiful  lot  outside  of  the  cor 
poration  limits,  quite  easy  of  access  to  its  inhabitants,  Mr.  Eice 
avoided  the  license  without  being  obliged  to  use  any  particular 
ingenuity. 

At  Rock  Island,  where  the  same  intention  was  to  be  carried 
into  effect,  the  authorities  met  him  in  a  more  liberal  manner,  and 
it  would  have  been  ungenerous  to  have  played  another  prank  on 
them.  The  foremost  among  those  who  gave  him  a  hearty  wel 
come  was  Mr.  Barrett,  who  always  declared  that  Mr.  Eice  had 
paid  him  his  tavern  and  room  bill.  The  ex-sheriff  of  Davenport 
County  and  the  constables  of  Eock  Island  tendered  him  a  wel 
come  also  that  had  no  reflection  of  the  previous  episode  in  it. 
Even  the  ex-mayor  of  Eock  Island  confessed,  as  a  secret  he  had 


94  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

never  before  dared  to  divulge,  that  lie  was  present  at  the  exhibi 
tion  that  was  never  produced  and  cheered  loudest  when  Mr.  Rice 
disappeared  behind  the  curtain,  and  was  greatly  chagrined  when 
"  he  ain't  there/'  resounded  through  the  room.  And  although 
he  had  observed  all  the  respectable  portion  of  the  villagers  in 
attendance,  no  one  would  ever  acknowledge  his  presence,  and  he 
did  not  like  to  subject  himself  to  the  universal  ridicule  of  being 
the  only  one  who  composed  Dan  Rice's  audience  on  that  occasion. 
It  was  advertised  that  every  person  who  had  gone  to  see  the 
performance  at  Barrett's  Hotel  that  memorable  evening  would 
now  receive,,  free,  an  admission  to  the  circus,  as  Mr.  Rice  felt 
morally  bound  to  adjust  himself  honorably  with  the  community. 
But  every  man  had  committed  himself  by  vowing  that  he  had 
never  been  near  the  previous  show  at  all,  therefore  the  ex-mayor 
of  Eock  Island  received  a  complimentary  family  ticket  as  a 
reward  for  his  honest  confession,  and  Mr.  Eice's  humorous  re 
marks  in  the  arena,  of  the  previous  affair,  created  great  amuse 
ment  at  the  expense  of  those  who  were  unmistakably  sensitive  to 
his  ridicule. 


CHAPTER   XII. 

CIRCUS  LIFE  AS  IT  WAS  AND  IS — OLD  AND  NEW  SCHOOLS — 
PRESENT  AND  PAST  METHODS  COMPARED — MORALE  AND  PER 
SONNEL  OF  THE  PERFORMERS THEIR  METHODS,  TEMPTA 
TIONS  AND  HARDSHIPS  CONTRASTED  WITH  THOSE  OF  THE 
PRESENT-DAY  ARTISTS — A  LUGUBRIOUS  INCIDENT — A  BIBU 
LOUS  BRIDEGROOM — A  HAPPY  DENOUEMENT — A  GRUESOME 
AWAKENING — SAD  DEATH  OF  A  ROOM-MATE. 

IN"  striving  to  enhance  the  interests  of  his  little  travelling  es 
tablishment,  Mr.  Rice  was  ever  on  the  alert  for  some  attrac 
tion  to  please  the  public  mind  and  eye,  and  introducing  new 
novelties  of  his  own  invention  to  strengthen  the  programme  for 
different  localities,  and  thus  win  an  interested  patronage.  In 
the  summer  of  1843  he  revisited  Quincy,  111.,  and  on  the  way  to 
that  place  he  secured,  as  a  drawing  card,  a  nephew  of  ex-Governor 
Carl  in,  who  had  won  somewhat  of  a  reputation  among  his  towns 
men  at  Carlinville  as  a  slack-wire  performer.  And  on  account 
of  his  professional  notoriety,  he  became  an  adjunct  of  the  Rice 
show  which  was  extensively  heralded  as  containing  "  among  its 
many  attractions,  a  nephew  of  the  ex-Governor  of  Illinois."  But, 
unfortunate!}7,  the  very  first  time  young  Blackshear  gave  a  per 
formance  on  the  strength  of  this  announcement,  the  wire  broke, 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    IUCE  95 

and  he  was  injured  to  such  an  extent  by  the  fall  that  he  was 
obliged  to  postpone  his  engagement  indefinitely.  Also  in  the 
summer  of  1843,  Mr.  Rice  exhibited  through  the  mining  region 
of  Illinois,  attracting  much  attention  among  the  miners  by  the 
superb  feats  of  strength  he  performed.  He  now  added  to  his 
regular  program  the  lifting  of  pigs  of  lead,  beginning  with  1,400 
pounds  and  gradually  increasing  the  weight  to  2,000  pounds. 
The  miners  could  scarcely  believe  this  feat  possible,  and  the 
strongest  among  them  was  unable  to  duplicate  it.  Mr.  Eice  was 
of  medium  stature,  and  the  lead,  having  been  laid  regularly  on  a 
platform,  supported  by  two  trestles,  he  was  able  to  get  under  the 
platform  with  bowed  shoulders  and  bent  knees,  and  by  straighten 
ing  his  lower  limbs  would  lift  the  platform  clear  of  the  trestles. 
Among  the  sturdy  fellows  of  superior  strength  brought  forth  by 
the  miners  to  test  the  great  burden  was  John  Ethel,  a  powerful 
man,  and  also  a  previous  acquaintance  of  Mr.  Rice's,  whose  efforts 
to  lift  the  enormous  weight  were  also  unsuccessful.  The  secret 
of  the  failure  was,  that  they  were  all,  as  a  rule,  too  tall,  and 
when  passing  under  the  platform  were  obliged  to  bend  so  much 
as  to  destroy  their  leverage,  and  they  therefore  had  no  strength 
that  they  could  bring  into  requisition.  It  was  merely  a  question 
of  proper  adjustment  of  the  trestles  to  meet  the  stature  of  the 
person  who  was  testing  the  burden,  and  Mr.  Rice's  knowledge  of 
anatomy  enabled  him  to  calculate  the  exact  angle  and  extension 
so  perfectly  that  he  rarely  missed  those  calculations.  His  daily 
practice,  besides,  created  a  precision  that  could  only  be  gained 
by  persistent  usage.  All  through  that  wild,  primitive  country 
Rice  continued  his  exhibition,  travelling  with  a  horse  and  buggy 
and  indulging  in  his  favorite  game  of  "  seven-up  "  with  the  card 
champion  of  every  new  field  he  visited.  His  expenses  were  not 
very  large,  but  his  extravagance  consisted  mainly  in  his  great 
hearted,  liberal  nature,  that  could  never  withstand  the  appeals 
made  upon  his  purse,  for  he  was  often  called  upon  to  contribute 
to  different  objects  out  of  compliment,  a  courtesy  he  rarely  re 
fused. 

At  Snake  Diggins,  afterwards  called  Potosi,  in  Jo  Daviess 
County,  he  encountered  the  only  man  he  met  on  the  tour  who 
could  play  "  seven-up  "  better  than  he.  His  name  was  Lemuel 
Smith,  an  old  sport,  who  won  six  hundred  dollars  from  him,  and 
his  horse  and  buggy  also  fell  a  sacrifice,  which,  however,  was 
returned  to  him,  and  fifty  dollars  besides.  This  sum  Smith 
loaned  to  Mr.  Rice,  with  which  to  go  to  Plattsburg,  Mineral 
Point,  and  Galena.  Mr.  Rice  informs  us  that  his  assistant  on 
this  tour  was  a  young  man  who  gave  his  name  as  Arthur  S. 
Poarlos,  and  the  two  young  persons  formed  a  strong  friendship 
for  each  other. 


96  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

Pearles  represented  himself  as  a  Bostonian,  and  it  is  evident 
that  he  was  an  intellectual  individual,  and  also  a  line  musician, 
for  he  was  master  of  several  different  instruments,  but  what  Ue 
specially  preferred  was  the  violin.  He  was  also  possessed  of  fine 
morals  and  carefully  held  himself  as  far  apart  as  was  possible 
from  the  rough  element  of  those  early  days.  He  told  Mr.  Rice 
that  he  had  been  carefully  raised,  and,  as  he  was  not  naturally 
strong,  he  had  been  advised  by  his  physician  to  go  to  the  min 
ing  country  and  lead  a  life  among  its  hardships;  to  experiment 
if  it  would  effect  a  cure,  as  the  climate  in  Boston  was  too  rigid. 
The  result  had  been  so  satisfactory  that  he  concluded  to  return 
to  his  home,  and,  as  he  preferred  a  journey  long  drawn  out,  he 
engaged  to  travel  with  Mr.  Rice  and  thus  eventually  accomplish 
the  end  with  renewed  vigor  by  entering  into  what  seemed  to  be  to 
him  a  pleasant  pastime.  A  few  days  previous  to  the  performance 
at  Plattsburg,  Mr.  Pearles  had  been  ailing  with  premonitory 
symptoms  of  the  quinsy  sore  throat,  and  was  really  quite  ill  by 
the  time  they  reached  Mineral  Point,  the  next  place  on  the  route. 
The  exhibition  was  held  as  usual  in  the  dining-room  of  the  hotel, 
and  Mr.  Pearles  played  for  Mr.  Rice  in  the  songs  and  dances, 
but  was  unable  to  continue  the  programme  during  the  feats  of 
strength.  He  was  obliged  to  retire  directly  to  his  room,  where 
the  landlady  made  him  as  comfortable  as  possible  under  the  cir 
cumstances,  renewing  the  poultices  on  his  throat,  etc.,  for  Mr. 
Rice  had  strictly  charged  that  Pearles  should  have  the  best  at 
tention,  and  it  was  rendered  accordingly. 

Mr.  Rice,  necessarily,  retired  late,  and  as  he  occupied  the  same 
room  with  Pearles,  he  took  to  him  a  hot  beverage  which,  the 
young  man  told  him,  he  could  not  possibly  swallow.  Mr.  Rice, 
after  seeing  that  Pearles'  wants  were  supplied,  retired  by  his 
side  in  the  same  couch,  and  was  soon  in  a  profound  slumber.  On 
awakening  the  next  morning  about  five  o'clock  he  inquired  of  his 
friend  if  he  were  feeling  better,  and,  not  receiving  any  response, 
he  laid  his  hand  on  him  gently  to  rouse  him,  and  found,  to  his 
consternation,  that  the  man  was  cold. 

Further  investigation  by  a  physician  proved  that  the  abscess  in 
Mr.  Pearles'  throat  had  broken  and  suffocated  him.  As  there 
was  no  organized  graveyard  in  that  mining  country,  Mr.  Rice 
contracted  with  the  landlord  to  set  off  a  plot  of  ground  with  a 
rude  fence,  and  secured  a  carpenter  to  make  a  stanch  box,  in 
which  they  laid  Arthur  Pearles  away,  without  any  ceremony,  in 
n  lonely  grave  which  they  dug  with  their  own  hands,  and  left 
him  'mid  the  lights  and  shadows  that  shifted  over  the  prairie. 
Mr.  Rice  gathered  together  the  young  man's  effects,  and  after 
locking  the  trunk  and  fastening  the  key  on  the  cover,  had  it 
addressed  and  despatched  to  the  Mayor  of  Boston,  to  whom  he 


KEMINISCEXCES    OF    DAN    RICE  97 

also  wrote  apprising  him  of  the  circumstances  as  they  occurred 
above,  and  then  continued  his  journey.  To  that  letter  he  never 
received  any  response,  and  he  does  not  know  whether  the  relatives 
of  Arthur  Pearles  ever  heard  of  his  death,  but  the  sad  incident 
is  still  impressed  on  his  memory,  after  all  these  years,  with  a 
painful  vividness. 

Before  crossing  the  Wisconsin,  Mr.  Eice  stopped  over  night  at 
Patch's  Grove,  on  the  prairie,  and  in  fireside  gossip,  before  retir 
ing  that  night,  discovered  that  Mr.  Patch  was  related  to  his 
stepfather,  by  his  marriage  with  a  Miss  Manahan,  of  Cayuga 
Lake,  N.  Y.  A  bond  of  relationship  having  thus  been  estab 
lished,  it  was  agreed  that  he  should  be  Mr.  Patch's  guest  for 
several  days,  and  give  an  exhibition  in  his  house.  The  news 
having  been  circulated  in  that  sparsely  settled  country,  the  rustic 
beaux  and  belles  of  the  neighborhood  gathered  on  the  evening 
of  the  entertainment  in  the  immense  living  room  of  the  Patch 
family,  which  did  duty  for  both  sitting-room  and  kitchen,  while 
the  gigantic  fireplace,  curtained  off  by  two  sheets,  served  for 
dressing-room  and  stage  alike.  The  silhouette  of  Mr.  Rice's 
manly  form,  as  he  divested  himself  of  his  clothes  to  don  his  stage 
garb,  came  out  in  clear  relief  on  the  curtain  and  provoked  much 
mirth,  as  well  as  some  little  consternation,  in  the  audience.  It 
is  also  recorded  that  Mr.  Rice  actually  blushed  and  was  greatly 
discomfited  when  he  discovered  that  he  had,  without  any  design 
on  his  part,  been  the  innocent  cause  of  deep  mortification  to  the 
prairie  belles  and  their  beaux;  but  notwithstanding  this  ludicrous 
scene,  the  remainder  of  the  programme  was  carried  out  with 
equally  good  effect.  In  continuing  his  journey  after  a  series  of  en 
tertainments  at  Patch's  Grove,  before  crossing  the  Wisconsin 
River  on  his  way  to  Baraboo,  Mr.  Rice  observed  a  monstrous  black 
snake  in  the  road  over  which  they  were  driving.  This  circum 
stance  would  have  seemed  only  a  trivial  affair  to  many,  but  to 
one  so  constituted  as  he,  and  who  has  such  an  intense  aversion 
to  those  reptiles  as  he  entertains,  the  mere  sight  of  one  is  almost 
ominous,  and,  besides,  he  holds  peculiar  views  in  regard  to  them. 
Not  being  in  a  position  to  despatch  this  one,  which  he  disliked 
so  much  to  pass,  the  party  urged  the  horse  to  the  limit  of  his 
speed  and  made  no  halt  until  they  reached  the  arranged  destina 
tion,  so  determined  was  Mr.  Rice  to  get  out  of  that  part  of  the 
country  and  leave  his  evil  genius  behind  him. 

Mr.  Seth  Kurd,  a  popular  resident  of  Baraboo,  at  that  period 
owned  the  stage  line  at  that  place,  and  also  kept  the  hotel  at 
which  Mr.  Rice's  party  registered,  and  it  was  in  the  dining-room, 
as  usual,  that  he  gave  his  performances.  On  one  occasion  he 
regaled  his  audience  by  executing  a  genuine  war-dance  to  please 
the  Indians,  many  of  whom  had  come  to  see  the  Strong  Man. 
7 


98  REMINISCENCES    OF    UAN    EICE 

Colonel  Rice  has  remarked  that  it  was  a  curious  spectacle  to  see 
the  swarthy  fellows  seated  around  on  the  floor  with  their  blankets 
folded  about  them  and  trinkets  displayed  to  good  advantage  on 
this  occasion,  as  they  were  part  of  the  audience.  And  they  ex 
hibited  great  interest  when  he  went  through  the  war-dance,  ap 
parently  to  their  satisfaction.  They  expressed  themselves  freely 
at  his  feats  of  strength,  and  applauded  every  feature  of  the 
performance. 

On  his  return  journey  he  remained  over  night  and  gave  a 
performance  at  Fort  Winnebago,  a  great  army  station,  at  which 
many  prominent  officers  were  then  quartered,,  including  Gen. 
Zachary  Taylor;  young  Jefferson  Davis,  who  was  afterwards  Gen 
eral  Taylor's  son-in-law;  and  Gen.  Simon  Cameron.  Also  Lieu 
tenant  Rodman,  the  inventor  of  the  famous  Rodman  gun.  This 
gentleman  had  previously  met  Mr.  Rice,  when  he  was  a  boy,  at 
the  Allegheny  Arsenal  in  Pittsburg,  and  on  this  occasion,  he  was 
Mr.  Rice's  sponsor  for  the  evening.  The  performance  was  a 
grateful  change  to  the  monotony  of  garrison  life  and  all  expressed 
their  pleasure  at  the  efforts  of  our  hero  in  "  driving  dull  care 
away  "  in  the  few  short  hours  that  he  remained  their  guest. 

Late  in  the  spring  of  1844  he  gave  his  performance  in  Ottawa, 
111.,  at  the  headwaters  of  the  river.  He  had  grown  weary  of  the 
Far  West,  as  that  country  was  considered  at  that  period;  the 
romance  had  vanished  from  the  life  he  was  leading  and  he  at  last 
determined  to  return  to  the  East  and  follow  some  other  vocation. 

Among  the  audience  who  saw  his  show  on  the  last  night  at 
Ottawa,  was  the  Rev.  Skipworth  Griswold,  a  remarkable  char 
acter.  Though  a  preacher  of  the  Baptist  Church,  at  Danbury, 
Conn.,  Mr.  Griswold  was  travelling  through  the  West  as  the 
advance  agent  of  the  North  American  Circus,  of  which  G.  R. 
Spaulding,  of  Albany,  N.  Y.,  was  proprietor. 

Clergymen  were  not  paid  salaries  in  those  days,  and  Mr.  Gris 
wold,  who  was  a  good  man,  was  forced  to  travel  ahead  of  a  circus 
in  summer  to  get  money  enough  to  support  his  family  in  winter. 

His  superior  education  made  him  an  excellent  representative, 
and  his  geographical  knowledge,  as  well  as  his  influence,  were  of 
great  benefit  to  such  an  organization.  After  Rice's  performance 
was  over,  Mr.  Griswold  walked  back  to  the  hotel  with  him. 

"  That  is  a  fine  exhibition,  Mr.  Rice,"  said  he,  "  and  it  makes 
a  splendid  impression.  I  wonder  you  do  not  join  a  circus  and 
display  your  surprising  feats  and  do  your  negro  songs  and 
speeches  under  canvas.  I  feel  sure  you  would  make  a  great 
clown,  and  you  know  good  clowns  are  hard  to  get."  Mr.  Rice 
was  impressed  with  Mr.  Griswold's  earnestness,  but  he  had  never 
thought  of  joining  a  circus.  Still,  any  change,  of  whatever  char 
acter,  seemed  just  at  that  time  desirable,  and  when  Mr.  Griswold 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  99 

offered  to  give  him  a  letter  of  introduction  to  G.  R.  Spaulding, 
who  would  soon  be  with  his  circus  at  Galena,  Mr.  Rice  accepted 
it  eagerly,  as  he  was  greatly  impressed  by  Mr.  Griswold's  gen 
tlemanly  bearing  and  his  evident  sincerity.  One  peculiarity  this 
gentleman  had  that  distinguished  him  from  his  brothers  in  the 
profession,  and  that  may  have  been  a  virtue,  was,  that  he  would 
never  travel  on  Sunday.  His  employer,  however,  in  this  in 
stance,  appreciated  the  tone  he  gave  to  the  circus  by  observing 
that  custom  and  thus  catering  to  the  church-going  public.  In 
those  days  a  circus  remained  a  week,  and  sometimes  two,  in  a 
town  like  Galena,  and  its  patrons  would  assemble  from  all  parts 
of  the  surrounding  country.  On  the  arrival  of  Mr.  Spaulding, 
Mr.  Rice  found  that  he  was  by  no  means  unacquainted  with  his 
fame,  for  everyone  in  that  country  knew  of  Dan  Rice  by  his 
previous  career  among  them.  The  letter  of  introduction  was 
duly  presented,  and  Mr.  Spaulding  soon  began  cross-examining 
him  as  to  what  he  could  do. 

"  You  say  you  can  sing  comic  songs?  " 

"Yes/'   v 

"  And  do  negro  songs  and  dances?  " 

"  Yes." 

"  And  pull  against  horses?  " 

"  Yes." 

"  And  climb  the  fireman's  ladder?  " 

"  Yes." 

"  Would  you  like  to  go  with  the  circus?  " 

"  Yes;  I'm  tired  of  roaming  around  the  country  alone." 

"  Can  you  drive  a  team  ?  " 

"  Yes." 

"  Can  you  learn  to  ride,  and  figure  in  the  Grand  Entry?  " 

"  Yes." 

"  Can  you  play  clown?  " 

"  I  can  try." 

"  Well,  if  you  can  do  all  those  things,  and  play  clown,  and 
whip  three  men  a  day  in  addition,  I'll  board  you  and  give  you 
$15  a  month." 

Mr.  Spaulding  was  having  his  own  little  joke  in  all  this  ramble, 
and  Mr.  Rice  was  well  aware  of  it,  but  he  accepted,  and  on  the 
fourth  day  made  his  first  appearance  in  the  circus  ring.  He  was 
at  once  successful  and  carried  out  his  contract  religiously,  not 
•excepting  the  three  presumed  beatings  a  day  to  be  administered 
to  the  champion  of  the  local  bullies  who  beset  travelling  circuses 
in  those  days,  notwithstanding  varied  reports  to  the  contrary. 

The  circus  of  the  early  times  had  nothing  in  its  profession  to 
cast  reflection  on  its  actors,  and  Mr.  Rice  says  he  has  nothing  to 
regret  by  being  connected  with  it. 


100  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

He  made  his  debut  as  a  circus  clown  at  Galena,  111.,  on  the 
afternoon  of  a  hot  day  in  midsummer  in  1844,  and  while  he  made 
every  effort  to  please  the  audience,  he  thinks  he  succeeded,  but 
says  he  perspired  as  well  as  aspired  in  about  equal  proportions. 
On  the  whole,  his  debut  may  have  been  pronounced  a  brilliant 
success,  for  a  large  number  of  friends  and  acquaintances  were 
there  to  cheer  and  encourage  him,  and  everything  passed  off 
smoothly  at  the  entertainment.  Among  Mr.  Rice's  acquaint 
ances  who  witnessed  this,  his  first,  circus  performance,  was  a 
miner  by  the  name  of  John  Ethel,  a  tall,  gaunt,  unprepossessing- 
looking  individual,  but  a  good  fellow,  and  industrious  workman, 
and  an  honest  man  as  well.  He  had  been  in  good  luck  lately, 
having  struck  a  rich  vein  of  lead  ore,  and  had  purchased  a  neat 
little  home  into  which  he  had  conducted,  on  the  very  morning 
of  Mr.  Rice's  debut,  the  rather  pretty  little  daughter  of  a  Con 
necticut  dominie  or  minister. 

John  Ethel  himself  was  not  an  educated  man,  but  his  wife  had 
been  a  "  schoolmarm,"  and  John  regarded  her  attainment  and 
learning  as  colossal,  while  she  almost  worshipped  his  physical 
powers,  which  were  not  overestimated;  so,  as  each  person  admired 
in  the  other  some  quality  the  chosen  one  really  possessed,  the 
chances  for  their  mutual  happiness  were  good,  and  the  prospects 
positively  assuring. 

John  Ethel  and  Mr.  Rice  had  met  occasionally,  and  were 
socially  on  excellent  terms,  so  the  groom  determined  to  take  in 
Mr.  Rice's  debut  on  his  wedding  day  as  part  of  the  festivities 
of  the  occasion,  and  he  took  it  for  granted,  of  course,  that  his 
bride  would  accompany  him;  but  in  this  natural  calculation,  he 
was  mistaken.  Mrs.  John  Ethel  had  been  strictly  reared  by  her 
parents  under  the  true  "  blue  laws  "  of  Connecticut,  and  had 
been  taught  to  regard  a  circus  as  sinful  unless  a  menagerie  went 
with  it.  "  If  only  there  were  some  animals,  John,  dear,"  she 
said;  "  a  tiger  or  two  would  save  it,  you  know,  or  a  lion  would 
make  it  all  right,  or  even  a  leopard  or  a  camel  might  take  away 
the  curse,  but  no  animals  at  all,  dear;  only  horses  and  men  in 
tights  and  women  in  spangles  and  gauze,  nothing  on;  ah,  I 
couldn't  do  it,  John,  it  would  break  father's  heart,  so  don't  ask 
me,  John."  And  John,  after  this,  did  not  insist  upon  her  going, 
but  kissing  his  bride  good-by  for  awhile,  left  her  to  fulfil  his 
engagement,  that  embraced  Mr.  Rice's  debut.  Having  previously 
stopped  at  various  taverns  and  partaken  of  more  than  was  neces 
sary  of  spirituous  refreshments,  he  reached  Spaulding's  Circus 
tent,  where  Rice  was  performing,  in  a  "  glorious  "  condition.  On 
entering  and  seeing  Mr.  Rice  in  the  ring  he  called  out  his  name, 
and  running  down  to  where  he  was  standing,  seized  him  by  the 
hand  and  shook  it  heartily.  Mr.  Rice  acknowledged  the  impul- 


BEMINISCEXCES    OF    DAN    KICE  101 

sivc  demonstration  of  Mr.  Ethel,  as  he  did  not  wish  to  have  the 
performance  interrupted.  Meanwhile,,  John's  great  burly  body  in 
tercepted  the  view  of  the  audience,  and  calls  of  "  Sit  down  there, 
John  Ethel,"  arose  from  the  crowd.  John  looked  around  and  not 
finding  any  seat  vacant,  the  tent  being  full  to  overflowing,  delib 
erately  sat  down  on  the  ground  beside  the  ring,  interrupting  Mr. 
Eice  now  and  then  with  his  views  of  the  performance,  including 
his  own  share  therein.  All  was  proceeding  smoothly  when  a 
storm  suddenly  burst  over  the  tent — a  storm  of  wind  and  rain, 
which  came,  as  most  of  those  tornadoes  do,  with  scarcely  any 
previous  warning.  It  blew  the  tent  down  and  every  one  nar 
rowly  escaped  being  hurt.  They  hurried  away,  performers  and 
all,  the  latter  for  the  once  having  the  best  of  the  situation,  as  they 
had  hotels  or  taverns  to  go  to  for  shelter,  which  were  close  at 
hand.  The  storm  lasted  for  several  hours  and  prevented  any 
evening  performance,  but  after  supper  it  began  to  abate  in  vio 
lence,  and  Dan  Bice,  the  new  clown,  and  another  member  of  the 
Spaulding  Company,  a  young  man  who  afterwards  became  fa 
mous  as  W.  W.  Hobbes,  the  dashing  rider,  taking  their  umbrellas 
went  down  to  the  river  to  see  the  steamboats.  There  was  a 
notable  public  house,  a  stone  structure,  called  the  Eagle  Coffee 
House,  which  was,  in  after  years,  the  favorite  resort  of  General 
Grant  when  he  was  a  young  man,  and  which  was  then,  as  now,  one 
of  the  landmarks  of  the  water  front.  Hobbes  and  Eice  entered 
this  house  and  looked  on  a  while  at  the  gathering  crowd,  conspicu 
ous  among  whom  was  John  Ethel,  now  hilarious  in  the  secondary 
stages  of  intoxication.  He  was  dispensing  both  fun  and  funds 
with  a  degree  of  extravagance  that  lacked  good  judgment,  but 
this  was  his  wedding  night,  and  he  the  happy  but  bibulous  bride 
groom  was  celebrating  the  connubial  event.  Seeing  Mr.  Eice  and 
Hobbes,  he  accosted  the  former  and  invited  him  and  his  com 
panion  to  have  a  drink.  "  Dan,"  he  said,  as  Mr.  Eice  accepted 
the  invitation,  "  I  saw  your  debut  to-day,"  with  an  accent  on  the 
but,  "  and  said  you  were  the  worst  clown  I  ever  saw,"  which  was 
plain  and  not  complimentary.  "  I'll  tell  you  what  I'll  do  with 
you,  Dan  Eice;  paint  me  up  for  the  clown  and  I'll  play  it  all 
around  for  drinks."  The  crowd  thought  it  a  form  of  joke,  but 
Ethel  was  in  earnest.  "  Paint  me,  Dan,"  he  cried,  and  for  the 
sheer  fun  Mr.  Eice  sent  for  some  stuff  to  the  nearest  drug  store, 
such  as  vermilion,  Spanish  whiting,  and  India  ink,  and  painted 
him  in  a  most  hideous  fashion,  first  whitening  his  face  and  neck, 
then  painting  his  mouth  from  ear  to  ear  with  vermilion,  and 
then  painted  his  eyebrows  with  India  ink,  adding  ink  also  to  the 
corners  of  the  mouth,  thus  the  clown  was  portrayed  in  caricature. 
He  had  taken  off  his  coat  and  vest,  and  Mr.  Eice  completed  the 
pictorial  outfit  by  tying  a  white  handkerchief  around  Ethel's 


102  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

head,  which  framed  his  painted  features  in  a  most  hideous  way. 
The  gathering  was  convulsed  with  laughter,  as  John,  in  his 
maudlin  state  attempted  the  clown's  grimaces  with  distorted 
features,  and  as  he  slipped  on  the  wet  floor  in  his  wild,  un 
steady  gyrations,  his  appearance  was  indeed  fiendishly  funny, 
and  simply  indescribable.  The  hilarious  sport  increased,  rather 
than  diminished,  and  the  evening  waned  into  midnight,  and  soon 
there  remained,  of  all  the  revellers,  only  Mr.  Eice,  his  friend,  the 
barkeeper,  and  John  Ethel.  The  late  hour  ushered  in  the  time 
for  closing  and  those  present  made  preparations  for  leaving. 
Ethel  was  about  exhausted  in  his  frantic  efforts  to  play  the 
clown,  and  concluded  that  he  would  make  his  way  home  to  his 
waiting  bride.  As  he  shook  Mr.  Eice's  hand  at  parting,  he  said, 
"  Well,  good-bye,  Dan,  you're  the  worst-looking  clown  I  ever  saw, 
except  myself,"  he  added  as  he  caught  a  glimpse  of  his  own  ap 
pearance  in  the  glass,  in  front  of  which  Mr.  Eice  was  standing. 
The  figure,  impersonating  himself,  looked  so  hideous,  that  he 
glared  at  it  with  a  sort  of  fascination  that  had  a  tendency  to  sober 
him  into  a  realization  that  he  had  made  a  ridiculous  exhibition  of 
himself,  for  he  remarked,  "  By  gosh,  I  can't  go  home  to  my  wife 
on  my  wedding  night  looking  like  this."  He  made  a  frantic 
dash  for  the  pump  which  stood  in  front  of  the  tavern,  and  the 
location  of  which  he  knew  well  enough  to  guess  at  in  the  dark 
ness.  In  his  rash  haste  to  perform  his  ablutions,  and  with  his 
brain  still  unsettled  by  his  potations  and  aggravated  by  his  pj*e- 
vious  violent  exercise,  he  followed  the  wrong  direction  and  made 
his  way  directly  to  a  hitching  post,  against  which  a  reveller  was 
braced,  and  indulging  in  a  series  of  violent  efforts  to  relieve  him 
self  of  his  Bacchanalian  feast,  the  digestion  of  which  was  im 
peded,  no  doubt,  by  his  partaking  too  freely  of  the  liquors  fur 
nished  at  Ethel's  expense.  The  supreme  moment  for  him  came 
just  as  John  staggered  up  to  his  imaginary  pump,  and,  securing 
the  man's  arm,  which  he  mistook  for  the  pump  handle,  he  raised 
it  and  gave  a  vicious  lunge  downward  which  caused  the  Baccha 
nalian  stream  to  flow  profusely,  which  John  caught  in  his  out 
stretched  hands  and  proceeded  forthwith  to  wash  his  face.  A 
repetition  of  the  performance  was  substantial  evidence,  in  his 
dazed  condition,  that  he  was  absolutely  clean  and  in  readiness 
to  meet  the  newly  made  wife  in  presentable  order. 

Mr.  Eice  and  his  friend  accompanied  him  to  his  home  to  as 
sure  themselves  that  no  other  accident  should  befall  him  on  the 
way.  On  reaching  his  cottage  door,  Ethel  knocked  gently,  hav 
ing  just  a  glimmering  ray  of  common  sense  left  to  remind  him 
that  he  must  approach  his  dwelling  quietly,  so  as  to  give  assur 
ance  to  the  waiting  bride  that  all  was  well,  even  though  the  late 
ness  of  the  hour  was  rather  ominous.  In  response  to  his  knock- 


KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  103 

ing  came  the  tones  of  a  timid  voice  inquiring,  "  Who  is  there  ?  " 
"  It's  me,  your  John,"  was  the  answer,  in  a  deep  bass  voice,  that 
she  recognized  so  well.  His  wife  opened  the  door  and  started 
back  aghast,  as  the  light  fell  full  on  his  face  and  revealed  to  her 
the  conglomerated  mixture  with  which  he  had  performed  his 
ablutions,  and  the  nature  of  which  she  could  not  possibly  mistake. 
His  unsightly  general  appearance  appalled  and  disgusted  her,  and 
she  could  only  gasp,  "  Why,  John,  what  on  earth  is  the  matter 
with  you?  Look  at  your  soiled  clothes  and  filthy  condition." 
And  his  deep  voice  hiccoughed  out  exultantly  though  rather  un 
steadily,  "  Why,  Mary  (hie),  you  ought'er  seen  me  (hie)  'fore  I 
was  washed,"  and  the  cottage  door  closed  upon  the  first  act  of  the 
serio-comic  drama,  the  continuation  of  which  was  enacted  in 
private. 

The  mortification  of  that  night's  adventure  lasted  John  Ethel 
his  lifetime,  and  that  one  glaring  deviation  from  the  path  of  his 
hitherto  previous  respectability  caused  him  to  form  a  resolution 
that  it  would  be  the  last,  which,  indeed,  it  proved  to  be,  in  his 
long  and  honorable  career  that  followed.  The  initiation  of  the 
newly  made  wife  into  the  almost  unpardonable  blunder  of  her 
husband,  was  a  severe  test  to  her  naturally  refined  sensitiveness, 
but  her  womanly  instinct  covered  his  first  fault  with  a  prudent 
judgment  that  exhibited  more  of  sympathy  with  his  lack  of  dis 
cretion  in  regard  to  himself  than  in  the  injury  to  her  confidence, 
of  which  he  was  so  forgetful.  In  explaining  this  much  to  Mr.  Eice 
in  after  jears,  he  also  added  that  the  course  his  wife  pursued  on 
that  eventful  night  had  shaped  the  whole  of  his  future  career. 


CHAPTER   XIII. 

DAN'S  DEBUT  IN  THE  EQUESTRIAN  WORLD — THE  COMPOSITE 
CLOWN— RICE  IN  THE  ROLE  OF  MANAGER  AND  PROPRIETOR 
OF  HIS  FIRST  CIRCUS — STRICKEN  WITH  YELLOW  FEVER — 
NURSED  BY  GEN.  ZACHARY  TAYLOR — A  FACE,  A  FORTUNE, 
AND  THEIR  EFFECT  ON  A  FEVER  CONVALESCENT — A  WOULD- 
BE  ASSASSIN — RICE'S  RARE  PRESENCE  OF  MIND — NEW  OR 
LEANS  CITIZENS'  GRAND  TESTIMONIAL— THE  ARREST. 

MR.  RICE'S  star  of  success  was  now  destined  to  rise  in  the 
ascendancy,  and  the  future  held  for  him  results  that 
reached  far  beyond  his  highest  expectations.     The  keynote  of  his 
aspirations  had  struck  the  vital  chord  that  was  to  reverberate 
from  the  rustic  borders  of  our  growing  country  to  the  sea,  and 


104  EEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

elevate  the  standard  of  the  circus  to  the  heights  of  a  meritorious 
calling  which  was,  at  once,  both  artistic  and  dignified.  Now  that 
Mr.  Eice  had  at  last  become  a  legitimate  circus  performer,  it  will 
be  well  to  glance,  in  a  general  way,  at  the  condition  of  the  circus 
world  in  his  early  days  as  compared  with  the  circus  of  the  present 
time.  The  main  difference  of  the  circus  fifty  years  ago  and  that 
of  this  period  was  that  the  former  was  a  circus  pure  and  simple, 
an  equestrian  exhibition,  neither  less  nor  more.  There  were  no 
animals  in  the  old-time  amusement  except  horses,  for  the  circus 
was  not,  as  now,  a  menagerie  combined  with  a  side  show,  and  the 
noticeable  features  that  distinguished  the  circus  of  1840  from  that 
of  the  present  day  is  that  the  system  was  conducted  on  a  more 
economical  and  restrictive  basis  in  the  forties.  There  were  not 
as  many  performers  and  the  salaries  were  smaller,  even  allowing 
for  the  difference  in  the  value  of  money  at  that  time  and  now. 
A  man  who  received  $50  a  month  and  expenses  in  1840  was  re 
garded  in  the  same  light  as  one  who  gets  fifty  dollars  per  week 
and  expenses  in  1900.  To-day  every  one  is  a  specialist  and  con 
fines  himself  to  one  line  of  business  only,  but  forty  years  ago 
every  one  was  expected  to  do  everything  when  it  was  necessary, 
and  generally  accomplished  it,  even  to  the  daring  Bare-Back 
Rider,  who  assisted  in  erecting  the  tents,  and  the  King  of  the 
Invincibles  who  aided  in  the  arranging  of  the  seats.  A  circus  star 
was  practically  a  "  general  utility,"  and  perhaps  this  made  him 
a  better  "  all  around  man."  There  were  but  few  appliances,  but 
there  was  more  individuality. 

A  circus  manager,  for  example,  made  less  ado,  but  accomplished 
more  and  better  results,  and  although  he  did  not  travel  with  a 
brass  band  or  a  staff  of  assistants,  managed  to  equip  the  estab 
lishment  with  artistic  accompaniments  just  the  same.  Although 
a  variegated,  and  on  the  whole,  a  hard  life,  yet  the  experience  of 
the  circus  performer  was,  in  those  days,  not  an  unpleasant  one. 
The  company  travelled  in  wagons,  roomy  and  comfortable,  from 
town  to  town,  selecting  the  best  hotels  along  the  routes.  There 
was  always  a  spice  of  adventure  and  romance  about  each  day's 
experience,  and  the  performers  were  generally  orderly,  excepting 
an  occasional  demonstration  of  professional  jealousy  which  oc 
curs  in  every  organization  to  some  extent.  There  was,  of  course, 
a  show  of  more  or  less  combativeness  between  the  members  of 
a  company,  and  the  country  element  along  the  route  were,  at 
times,  disposed  to  create  trouble  in  order  to  display  supremacy, 
but  such  troubles  arose  mainly  in  the  mining  and  manufacturing 
districts  where  certain  types  of  the  foreign  element  predominate. 

Frequently  the  circus  people  were  at  fault  on  other  occasions, 
but  as  a  rule,  circumstances  generally  forced  them  to  be  aggres 
sive.  With  very  few  exceptions,  the  general  order  of  affairs  pro- 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  105 

grossed  pleasantly  and  the  accounts  of  trouble  have  been  greatly 
exaggerated. 

The  training  of  the  equestrian  was  most  rigid,  and  his  early 
labors  most  arduous  compared  with  the  condition  of  the  young 
equestrian  neophyte  of  to-day,  which  is  now  greatly  ameliorated. 
Formerly  he  was  subjected  to  great  cruelty,  and  every  step  in  his 
advancement  accompanied  with  the  lash  and  curses;  now,  with 
occasional  exceptions,  the  apprentice  is  treated  humanely  and,  as 
might  be  expected,  his  advancement  is  more  rapid.  Hence  the 
singular  fact  that  young  Hernandez  and  M'lle  Rosa,  though  mere 
children,  are  better  performers  than  those  of  the  old  school. 

There  was  nothing  about  the  business  that  necessarily  militated 
against  law  and  good  morals,  nothing  inconsistent  with  the  most 
exemplary  life  and  rigid  profession  of  religion.  A  disorderly 
equestrian  was  an  anomaly,  or,  if  disorderly,  it  was  still  more  rare 
to  find  his  comrades  countenancing  him.  Non-resistance,  though 
more  ostentatiously  professed,  is  never  more  rigidly  practised. 
When,  however  (their  property  dilapidated,  their  persons  at 
tacked,  and  their  names  maligned  by  a  prejudiced  community) 
"  forbearance  becomes  no  longer  a  virtue,"  they  do  resist,  and 
usually  with  success.  Who  has  ever  seen  the  aggressor  neglect 
to  apply  for  legal  redress,  or,  applied,  refused?  The  showman's 
case  is  always  prejudged.  To  be  accused  is  to  be  convicted. 

Fortunately  a  brighter  day  is  dawning.  A  fondness  for  eques 
trian  and  gymnastic  exercises  pervades  the  highest  and  best  in 
the  land,  and  with  their  good  opinion  the  maledictions  of  others 
can  be  borne.  They  know  that  prurient  imaginations  that  could 
not  safely  view  the  old  masters  or  revel  in  the  beauties  of  the 
painters  and  sculptors  of  whom  the  country  is  so  proud,  without 
finding  food  for  corrupt  thought,  should,  of  course,  never  visit 
a  circus.  With  such,  nothing  but  what  is  cold  and  austere  and 
bare  is  pure,  watching  ever  to  detect  a  lurking  Cupid  or  Venus 
in  every  position  and  a  double  entendre  in  every  expression. 

The  fanatic  may  have  consolation  in  the  great  moral  as  well 
as  economic  axiom  that  the  demand  regulated  the  quality  as  well 
as  the  supply.  The  trader  furnishing  the  articles  most  in  de 
mand  amongst  his  customers  does  not  regard  their  utility,  nor 
does  the  merchant  in  the  glaring  color  in  his  fabrics  when  such 
are  in  vogue  trouble  himself  about  the  purity  of  the  taste  of  his 
patrons. 

The  extraordinary  uniqueness  of  the  entertainments  Colonel 
Rice  presented  was  in  bizarre  but  business-like  fidelity  with 
which  the  minutest  detail  was  invested.  The  indescribable  spirit 
that  imbued  everything  with  its  infectious  and  impressible  in 
dividuality,  to  say  nothing  of  the  genius  for  organization  which 
held  in  check  and  moulded  into  a  unit  the  crude  and  ever-clash- 


106  KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

ing  interests  of  a  professional  personnel,  rarely  if  ever  encoun 
tered  in  any  other  channel  of  the  world  of  amusement.  All  these 
characteristics  had  an  inevitable  tendency  to  win  a  public  patron 
age,  in  the  face  of  an  ever-present  and  powerful  competition, 
little  short  of  the  marvellous,,  when  the  reader  seeks  to  analyze 
the  secret  of  Mr.  Rice's  unparalleled  triumphs  in  the  circus  arena. 

The  cordiality  with  which  the  better  classes  and  more  influ 
ential  citizens  responded  to  his  odd  way  of  casting  off  the  stale, 
mechanical  method  of  the  past  in  introducing  innovations  that 
ordinarily  require  a  century  to  mature — all  this  can  be  accounted 
for  only  by  the  originality  and  determination,  pure  and  native 
tact,  and  brilliant  genius  of  the  great  moral  champion  of  the 
arena. 

The  following  year,  1847,  when  he  had  scarcely  attained  his 
twenty-fourth  year,  young  Dan  identified  himself  with  the  Welsh 
National  Circus,  making  his  initial  bow  in  the  equestrian  world 
at  the  National  Theatre,  Philadelphia.  It  was  while  filling  an 
engagement  there  that  his  wonderful  versatility  asserted  itself 
in  a  marked  degree.  If  in  the  character  of  a  Shakespearean 
clown  he  had  hitherto  achieved  an  unrivalled  renown,  in  his 
presentation  of  the  new,  boldly  original,  and  strikingly  comic  role 
of  an  equestrian  clown,  he  had  certainly  reached  the  comic 
climax,  so  to  speak,  of  his  world-wide  fame  as  a  fun-maker. 

The  composite  clown,  in  which  these  two  opposite  types  com 
bined,  was  only  made  possible  by  such  a  genius  as  Eice,  and  re 
vealed  in  him  one  of  the  richest  and  most  natural  grotesques  that 
was  ever  surmounted  with  the  sugar-loaf  hat. 

Perhaps  no  artist  is  thrown  more  completely  on  his  own  re 
sources  than  is  the  equestrian  clown.  Unlike  the  low  comedian, 
he  has  no  humorous  speeches,  monologues,  jests,  jokes,  or  conun 
drums  manufactured  to  the  bidding  by  the  best  wits  of  the  day, 
working  overtime  at  that;  neither  has  he  the  assistance  of  con 
federates  drilled  to  their  parts  or  the  extrinsic  aids  of  the  arenic 
illusion  and  dress.  He  is,  on  the  contrary,  compelled  to  invent  his 
wit,  as  it  were,  on  the  wing,  and  being  the  centre  of  attraction, 
the  observed  of  all  observers,  if  a  spontaneous  sally  should  prove 
amiss,  he  has  no  alternative  but  to  bear  the  recoil  upon  his  own 
shoulders. 

In  this  semi-blend  of  the  wise  fool  and  the  knock-about-jack- 
of-all-jokes  sort  of  character  were  revealed  the  exhaustless  re 
sources  of  the  remarkable  man. 

Mr.  Rice  was  never  at  fault — never  at  a  loss  for  anecdote  or 
repartee  in  any  emergency,  and  while  his  art  was  often  pungent, 
his  mirth-inspiring  personality  made  ever  the  object  of  his  shafts 
the  subject  of  an  enviable  interest  than  a  target  for  popular  and 
distasteful  gossip. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  107 

But  in  the  development  of  the  dual  character  Mr.  Eice  had  a 
two-fold  purpose. 

The  Shakespearian  jester,  sui  generis,  had  entailed  an  in 
credible  drain  upon  him.  In  creating  or  assimilating  the  eques 
trian  clown  he  discovered  a  sort  of  side  line,  a  foil  in  fact,  to  re 
lieve  the  tremendous  strain,  mental  and  physical,  which  the 
former  role  demanded. 

He  realized  in  so  doing  that,  in  the  event  of  success  as  the 
delineator  of  the  "  twin-opposites,"  his  future  was  assured. 

The  mirth  he  provoked  proved  indeed  a  mint  of  money.  It 
seemed  as  if  at  one  bound  he  had  reached  the  top  round  of  his 
professional  ladder. 

Wherever  he  appeared  throughout  the  United  States  the  most 
tremendous  and  enthusiastic  audiences  greeted  his  mirth-inspir 
ing  presence.  This  is  not  a  little  extraordinary  when  it  is  con 
sidered  he  made  his  debut  in  the  ring  only  three  years  prior,  that 
•is,  in  the  year  1844.  His  reputation,  sprung  up  thus  suddenly, 
however,  was  simply  and  solely  due  to  his  indomitable  and  tire 
less  energy,  reinforced  by  a  business  and  a  social  tact  that  were 
only  surpassed  by  his  engaging  personality  and  professional 
talents. 

Some  one  has  said  that  the  man  who  makes  two  blades  of  grass 
grow  where  but  one  thrived  before  is  a  public  benefactor;  upon 
the  same  principle  he  who  makes  us  laugh  twice  when  we  laughed 
but  once  before  is  as  great  a  philosopher  and  more  truly  entitled 
to  the  admiration  and  applause  of  his  fellow-men.  Dan  Eice 
was,  indeed,  such  a  benefactor,  great  as  a  man,  yet  greater  as  an 
artist.  His  success  was  electric — instantaneous.  He  was  fairly 
swamped  with  nattering  offers  at  home  and  from  abroad.  He 
was  nattered  and  feted  on  all  sides.  His  Philadelphia  engage 
ment  was  one  continuous  ovation.  So  it  was  that  under  such 
gratifying  auspices  the  youthful  prince  of  jesters  once  more 
branched  out  for  himself,  a  new  departure  that  proved  to  be  the 
stepping-stone  to  far  greater  triumphs  in  broader  fields,  as 
manager  and  proprietor  of  his  first  circus. 

Late  in  the  spring  of  the  year  1848,  with  the  first  circus  he 
ever  owned  on  board  of  the  steamboat  "  Allegheny  Mail,"  which 
started  from  St.  Louis,  he  ascended  the  Mississippi  Eiver  as  far 
as  St.  Paul  in  Minnesota,  exhibiting  at  alternate  towns  on  both 
sides  of  the  river.  In  returning  he  descended  the  lower  Missis 
sippi  with  a  view  of  spending  the  winter  in  New  Orleans.  Ar 
riving  at  Milliken's  Bend,  near  the  mouth  of  the  Yazoo  Eiver, 
Mr.  Bice's  indisposition,  of  which  he  had  complained  two  days 
previous,  had  now  developed  into  a  raging  fever.  At  this  point, 
several  gentlemen,  including  an  overseer  from  the  surrounding 
plantations,  called  to  see  Mr.  Eice,  and  concluded  from  his  symp- 


108  KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

toms  that  he  was,  in  all  probability,  suffering  from  the  first  stages 
of  the  yellow  fever.  They  advised  him  to  leave  his  boat  and 
make  use  of  the  overseer's  quarters  while  he  was  under  treatment, 
at  the  same  time  recommending  for  his  medical  adviser  the  plan 
tation  physician,  Dr.  O'Neill,  a  young  student  from  Cincinnati. 
Mr.  Rice  retained  a  reliable  employee  of  his  own  as  night  nurse, 
and  during  the  day  he  was  attended  by  a  planter's  young  son 
by  the  name  of  Jim  Ooff.  In  appearance  this  young  man  was  of 
a  sullen,  suspicious  type,  and  Mr.  Eice  imagined  that  he  was 
capable  of  any  crime,  and  as  his  safe,  containing  $28,000,  was 
removed  with  him  from  the  boat,  that  fact  made  him  apprehen 
sive  of  its  contents.  Therefore  he  was  ever  on  the  alert,  with 
his  mind  actively  engaged  on  the  one  absorbing  thought,  that 
of  watching  the  safe  during  the  day,  thus  diverting  his  attention 
from  his  illness,  which  was  evidently  the  best  thing  that  could 
have  happened  under  the  circumstances.  Finally,  by  the  time 
Mr.  Rice  became  safely  convalescent,  his  boat  arrived  after  meet 
ing  the  appointments  on  the  Yazoo  River,  and  he  was  then  taken 
by  his  attending  physician  to  Bayou  Sara  in  Mississippi,  to  be 
treated  by  a  celebrated  yellow  fever  practitioner,  Dr.  Gordon. 
This  gentleman  being  aware  that  the  young  students  usually 
practised  first  among  the  plantation  negroes,  and  being  surprised 
that  he  should  have  a  white  patient  under  his  charge,  asked  Dr. 
O'Neill  what  had  been  his  method  of  treatment  in  Mr.  Rice's  case. 
When  the  young  physician  had  explained,  Dr.  Gordon  said  that 
it  was  only  by  a  miracle  that  the  patient  had  survived  under  it. 
Mr.  Rice,  whose  humor  was  always  uppermost,  responded:  "I 
lived,  Doctor,  under  the  pressure  of  that  iron  safe  with  $28,000 
in  it,  and  I  couldn't  die  with  all  that  money  lying  around  loose." 
After  the  evening  exhibition  Mr.  Rice  was  able  to  be  taken 
on  the  boat  and  continue  the  journey  with  his  company  to  Baton 
Rouge,  Dr.  Gordon  having  advised  him  how  to  proceed  during  his 
convalescence.  Arriving  at  Baton  Rouge,  Mr.  Rice  was  removed 
from  the  boat  to  the  hotel,  where  he  remained  several  days,  dur 
ing  which  time  a  number  of  old  friends  called  to  inquire  after  his 
condition.  Among  them  was  Gen.  Zachary  Taylor,  who  had,  a 
short  time  previous,  returned  from  the  War  in  Mexico  loaded  with 
victorious  honors.  Having  had  large  experience  with  yellow 
fever,  he  insisted  that  he  would  become  Mr.  Rice's  nurse,  and 
through  the  General's  kind  attention  and  the  delicacies  he  fur 
nished,  the  patient  rapidly  improved,  so  much  so  that  after  a  few 
days  he  was  assisted  to  walk  from  the  hotel  to  his  boat,  leaning 
on  the  arm  of  the  General,  to  whom  he  ever  felt  grateful,  as  he 
afterwards  proved  by  his  tribute  to  him  in  the  arena.  A  curious 
incident  in  connection  with  this  episode  occurred  long  afterward 
in  the  autumn  of  1875,  when  Mr.  Rice  was  making  his  tour  by 


EEMIN1SCEXCES    OF    DAN    RICE  109 

boat  down  the  river  as  usual.  He  landed  at  Duckport,  a  few 
miles  below  Milliken's  Bend,  a  locality  made  famous  in  history 
by  General  Grant  digging  a  canal  to  cut  oil'  Vicksburg  from  the 
mainland.  The  exhibition  was  held  at  night  only,  as  the  negroes 
were'  busily  engaged  by  day  cotton-picking.  While  the  prepara 
tions  were  being  made  for  the  evening's  entertainment,  Mr.  Rice 
took  a  stroll  to  look  at  the  old  relic  of  war  times,  the  Grant  Canal, 
when  his  attention  was  drawn  to  a  couple  of  bears  chained  to  a 
tree.  He  threw  himself  down  on  the  Bermuda  grass  which  cov 
ered  the  entire  levee,  to  watch  their  antics,  when  he  was  suddenly 
accosted  by  a  stranger  who  was  bending  over  him.  He  glanced 
up  and  saw  an  uncouth  character  standing  there  with  an  arsenal 
around  his  waist,  and  rising  to  his  feet,  greeted  the  stranger 
with  the  question,  "  Do  you  live  here,  sir?  "  "  Yes,  sah,  this  is 
my  plantation,  and  thar,  yandah,  is  my  grocery."  And  then 
pointing  to  the  circus  tent  in  the  distance,  he  continued,  "  What 
is  that  thar?  "  To  which  Mr.  Rice  replied,  "  That  is  Dan  Rice's 

Horse  Show."     The  man  remarked,  "  It's  a lie,  sah;  Dan 

Rice  is  dead."  Mr.  Rice  explained,  "  Dan  Rice  is  not  dead,"  to 
which  the  man  responded,  "  Yes,  he  is;  he  died  at  Milligan's 
Bend  over  twenty  years  ago  of  yellow  fever.  I  know  what  I'm 
talking  about,"  and  with  a  gesture  of  a  man  of  that  class  who 
shows  that  he  is  not  accustomed  to  being  contradicted,  his  hand 
sought  the  pistol  in  his  belt.  Mr.  Rice  knew  the  meaning  of  the 
ominous  sign,  but  continued  nevertheless,  "  I  tell  you,  sir,  Dan 
Rice  is  not  dead!  I  am  the  only  Dan  Rice  that  ever  lived  and 
I've  never  been  dead  once  since  I  was  born."  "  Stranger,"  the 
man  said  solemnly,  "  I  was  nurse  to  Dan  Rice  when  he  war  down 
with  the  yellow  fever  at  Milligan's  Bend."  "  What  is  your 
name?  "  asked  Mr.  Rice,  beginning  to  recognize  him.  He  replied, 
"Jim  Ooff.  Everybody  knows  me  in  this  country,  sah;  I  work 
over  200  hands."  Upon  this  information,  Mr.  Rice,  knowing 
that  those  200  negroes  could  not  attend  his  show  without  the  full 
consent  of  the  master,  brought  all  his  policy  to  bear  upon  that 
question,  and  with  a  financial  eye  to  windward,  he  invited  the 
stranger  to  come  down  to  his  boat  at  the  levee,  and,  as  was  his 
custom,  treated  his  guest  very  hospitably.  In  the  course  of  con 
versation,  Mr.  Rice  remarked,  "  Well,  Ooff,  I  really  owe  my  life 
to  you,"  at  which  the  man  smiled.  "Do  you  remember,"  he 
continued,  "  the  iron  safe  I  had  with  me  in  my  room?  "  "  Yes, 
sah."  "  Well,  there  was  $28,000  in  that  safe,  and  I  read  petit 
larceny  in  your  face  and  it  was  my  anxiety  about  that  money  that 
kept  me  alive."  "  What  was  that  you  read  in  my  face?  "  asked 
Jim,  doubtfully.  As  Mr.  Rice  saw  that  he  did  not  fully  catch 
the  meaning  of  the  term,  he  felt  safe  in  repeating  it,  so  he  re 
plied,  "  I  said  that  I  read  petit  larceny  in  your  face,  sir."  Jim 


110  REMINISCENCES    OE    DAN    RICE 

bro'ke  into  a  smile  that  did  not  tend  to  enhance  the  contour  of  his 
features,  and  remarked  jubilantly,  "  Well,  they  didn't  reckon  me 
a  good-lookin'  feller  in  them  days!  That's  a  fact."  Mr.  Eice 
was  closely  observing  the  man,  and  says  the  lurking  fiend  looked 
out  in  every  feature,  and  the  desperado  was  stamped  in  every 
movement  and  gesture.  As  he  grasped  Mr.  Eice's  hand  on  his 
departure  from  the  boat,  that  gentleman  asked,  "  What  do  you 
keep  in  your  grocery,  sir?"  "Plantation  supplies,  sah,"  he 
answered.  Mr.  Eice  then  asked  if  he  had  any  eggs  for  sale,  and 
Ooff  replied,  "  I've  got  one  hundred  dozen  fresh  eggs,  sah,  at 
twenty-five  cents  a  dozen."  "  Then,  I  will  take  them  all,"  said 
Mr.  Eice;  "  send  them  up  to  the  boat  with  your  bill."  "  All 
right,  sah."  "  Bye-the-bye,"  said  Mr.  Eice,  "here  is  a  family 
ticket  for  you  to  attend  the  show  this  evening."  "  I've  got  no 
family,  sah;  only  a  nigger  gal  and  her  mother  who  keeps  house 
for  me.  But  I'm  much  obliged  to  you,  sah,  for  your  ticket,"  and 
he  grasped  Mr.  Eice's  hand  once  more  before  he  started  away 
with,  "  I'm  yo  friend,  sah.  Anything  I  can  do  for  you,  sah,  com 
mand  me,  sah."  After  the  eggs  had  been  delivered  from  the 
plantation  and  his  bill  settled,  Mr.  Eice  was  surprised  to  see  him 
return  and  purchase  two  hundred  tickets  for  the  negroes  to  at 
tend  in  the  evening.  The  news  of  Mr.  Eice's  meeting  with  Jim 
Ooff  spread  among  the  adjacent  plantations,  and  they  were 
largely  represented  by  the  colored  population  that  evening,  to 
gether  with  about  one  hundred  ladies  and  gentlemen  who  occu 
pied  the  reserved  seats.  The  large  audience  was  due,  mainly,  to 
Mr.  Eice's  diplomacy  in  dealing  with  the  outlaw.  Mr.  Eice  says 
that  a  Southern  gentleman  would  have  resented  the  indignity 
which  Jim  Ooff  offered  in  calling  him  a  liar,  but,  coming  as  he  did 
from  the  North,  he  was  of  cooler  blood  and  remembered  the  old 
saying  that,  "  A  drop  of  honey  gathers  more  flies  than  a  gallon 
of  vinegar." 

When  Mr.  Eice  had  fully  recovered  from  the  fever,  he  revived 
his  professional  season  in  the  succeeding  winter  in  New  Orleans 
under  very  auspicious  circumstances.  The  company,  being  com 
posed  of  some  of  the  very  best  available  talent,  was  sufficient 
assurance  for  the  attendance  of  the  elite  of  the  city,  and  General 
Taylor  and  the  officers  of  his  staff  were  also  frequent  visitors 
from  the  barracks  at  Baton  Eouge. 

With  his  great  capacity  for  localizing  events  and  the  broad 
license  of  the  arena,  Mr.  Eice  always  vividly  displayed  the  virtues 
of  the  hoary  old  hero  of  Buena  Vista,  and  continually  kept  him 
before  the  people  in  story  and  song,  composing  them  as  the  cir 
cumstances  required  and  the  opportunities  offered.  The  scene 
he  introduced  of  the  "  Battle  of  Buena  Vista  "  was  one  of  his 
greatest  successes  in  the  arena. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  111 

General  Taylor  was  daily  growing  stronger  into  the  affections 
of  the  people  and  Mr.  Rice  was  one  of  the  first  to  advocate  the 
General  for  the  Presidency  and  labored  assiduously  for  that  end, 
bringing  all  his  powers  to  bear  while  in  the  arena  and  out  of  it. 
Mr.  Rice  was  one  of  the  delegates  from  Louisiana  to  the  con 
vention  which  nominated  General  Taylor  for  the  Presidency,  and 
was  also  present  at  the  inauguration  ceremonies.  Being  a  strong 
personal  friend  and  admirer  of  the  grand  old  hero,  General  Tay 
lor  offered  Mr.  Eice  a  place  of  honor  on  his  private  staff,  which 
was  accepted  for  friendship's  sake,  the  General  conferring  upon 
him  the  legitimate  title  of  Colonel,  which  title  he  is  proud  to 
assume  as  the  gift  of  one  of  our  greatest  soldiers  in  the  nation's 
list  of  great  and  good  men. 

During  General  Taylor's  limited  term  of  office,  his  warm,  per 
sonal  interest  was  ever  enduring,  and  when  the  hero  of  these 
memoirs  was  summoned  to  the  bedside  of  his  prostrate  friend 
there  was  no  heart  in  that  assemblage  that  beat  in  greater  sym 
pathy  than  did  that  of  Col.  Dan  Rice  in  those  supreme  minutes 
when  the  President's  life  went  out  to  penetrate  the  mystery  of  the 
great  unknown.  Colonel  Rice  was  solicited  to  act  as  one  of  the 
pallbearers  at  the  obsequies,  which  honor  he  was,  unavoidably, 
unable  to  serve.  It  has  indeed  been  well  said  "  He  was  the 
noblest  Roman  of  them  all.  His  life  was  gentle,  and  the  ele 
ments  so  mix'd  in  him,  that  Nature  might  stand  up  and  say  to  all 
the  world,  i  This  was  a  man! ' : 

In  pronouncing  his  eulogy  on  General  Taylor,  the  Hon.  John 
Marshall  said  that  he  was  "  great,  without  pride;  cautious,  with 
out  fear;  brave,  without  rashness;  stern,  without  harshness;  mod 
est,  without  bashfulness;  apt,  without  flippancy;  sincere  and 
honest  as  the  sun." 

General  Scott,  who  also  knew  him  well,  paid  a  fine  tribute  when 
he  said,  "  He  had  the  true  basis  of  a  great  character,  pure,  in 
corrupt  morals  combined  with  indomitable  courage;  kind- 
hearted,  sincere,  and  hospitable  in  a  plain  way,  he  had  no  vice  or 
prejudice;  many  friends,  and  left  behind  him  not  an  enemy  in 
the  world." 

In  the  spring  of  this  same  season,  1848,  on  the  occasion  of  a 
benefit  tendered  him  by  the  citizens  of  New  Orleans,  Mr.  Rice 
was  the  recipient  of  a  massive  gold  medal  presented  by  a  com 
mittee  representing  some  of  the  best  business  and  social  elements 
of  the  Crescent  City.  It  was  executed  by  the  firm  of  H.  E.  Bald 
win  &  Co.,  the  Tiffany  of  those  days,  in  that  section..  The  gem 
was  surmounted  by  an  exquisitely  wrought  racehorse,  with  the 
rider  in  jockey  dress,  the  whole  being  beautifully  jewelled  and 
enamelled. 

On  one  side  was  the  inscription  "  Presented  to  Mr.  Dan  Rice, 


112  EEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

the  Shakespearian  Jester,  as  a  mark  of  esteem  for  private  worth 
and  of  admiration  for  professional  talent.  New  Orleans,  March 
4,  1848."  On  the  reverse  side  is  Mr.  Rice's  crest  with  the  inscrip 
tion  "  Filius  Moini " — Son  of  Mirth — and  beneath  a  careworn 
face,  with  a  branch  of  birch  between,  significant  of  Dan  Rice's 
success  in  brushing  away  dull  care.  The  medal  was  presented  in 
behalf  of  the  donors,  in  the  presence  of  5,000  people,  by  Mr. 
Foster,  a  brilliant  young  A7irginia  lawyer,  in  the  spring  of  1848. 
From  New  Orleans  Mr.  Rice  went  to  St.  Louis  in  the  spring 
of  1849,  where  he  met  with  an  overwhelming  demonstration. 
Parades  and  banquets  were  given  in  his  honor.  On  the  last  night 
of  his  appearance,  while  the  pavilion  was  crowded  to  its  utmost 
capacity,  the  Missouri  Fire  Company  presented  the  "  Prince  of 
Clowns,  of  managers,  and  good  fellows,"  with  a  splendid  silver 
cup. 

During  the  performance,  at  a  suitable  opportunity,  Mr.  J.  A. 
Valentine  entered  the  ring  and,  advancing  towards  Mr.  Rice, 
made  him  the  following  neat  and  appropriate  address: 

"  Mr.  Rice. — As  a  slight  return  for  the  kindness  you  have 
shown  them,  and  as  a  token  of  respect  to  your  professional  merit 
and  to  your  private  worth,  the  members  of  the  Missouri  Fire 
Company,  through  me,  desire  to  present  you  with  this  cup.  They 
beg  of  you  to  accept  it  as  a  token  of  their  friendship  and  esteem, 
and  allow  me  to  add  upon  my  own  responsibility,  sir,  that  I  sin 
cerely  trust  fifty  years  hence  you  may  be  able  to  quaff  your  wine 
from  it,  in  hale  health  and  fine  spirits." 

To  which  Mr.  Rice  answered: 

"  Mr.  Valentine. — This  spontaneous  expression  of  the  good 
feeling  entertained  toward  me  by  the  Missouri  Fire  Company  is 
indeed  as  gratifying  as  it  was  unlocked  for.  I  am  highly  de 
lighted  if  my  efforts  to  please  here  have  met  with  their  approba 
tion.  I  shall  always  endeavor  to  retain  their  good  opinion.  To 
this  compliment  as  to  my  professional  merit  I  will  say  that  it 
has  always  been  my  aim  to  improve  the  style  of  humor  of  the 
arena,  and  I  am  glad  to  see  that  those  efforts  have  met  with  appro 
bation.  To  their  declarations  of  private  esteem  I  can  only  say 
that  from  my  heart  I  thank  them  kindly." 

Mr.  Rice  with  his  company  then  proceeded  to  Cincinnati  in  the 
steamer  "  Jewess,"  having  disposed  of  the  steamboat  "  Allegheny 
Mail,"  and  met  there  his  silent  partner,  G.  R.  Spaulding,  who 
had,  during  Mr.  Rice's  southern  engagement,  organized  a  large 
wagon  show,  with  which  to  continue  the  enterprise  in  Northern 
territory,  which  was  to  be  opened  at  Pittsburg. 

During  the  succeeding  two  years,  1850-1851,  the  great  humor 
ist,  after  an  absence  of  two  seasons  made  a  tour  of  the  Northern 
States.  His  appearance  in  New  York  State  was  the  signal  for  a 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  113 

most  extraordinary  series  of  home-welcomings.  His  startling 
successes,  however.,  proved  the  cause  of  a  most  sensational  hap 
pening. 

Since  he  had  last  appeared  in  his  native  State,  he  had  encoun 
tered  many  mishaps,  and  enemies  had  done  their  utmost  to  crush 
him.  For  a  brief  period  his  foes  had  exulted  over  his  apparently 
hapless  fortunes,  but  they  knew  not  the  man  with  whom  they  had 
to  deal.  Misfortunes  only  served  to  develop  his  true  character, 
and  the  indomitable  spirit  which  existed  within  him  enabled  him 
to  rise  from  adversity  and  triumph  over  the  machinations  of  those 
who  sought  to  destroy  him.  The  tact  and  genius  which  nature 
had  so  lavishly  bestowed  on  him  won  for  him  a  world  of  friend 
ships,  and  so  while  the  engines  of  persecution  had  been  working 
against  him,  he  had  been  steadily  growing  in  public  favor.  His 
fame  as  a  fighter,  as  well  as  a  fun-maker,  had  preceded  him.  The 
relentless  revenge  with  which  Spaulding  and  Van  Orden  had  pur 
sued  him,  only  served  to  keep  him  more  closely  in  touch  with  the 
popular  heart.  On  every  side  he  was  met  by  the  most  enthusi 
astic  manifestation  of  respect  and  esteem. 

Whilst  Mr.  Rice  was  exhibiting  at  Rochester  in  the  fall  of  1850, 
Spaulding  and  Van  Orden,  lashed  to  fury  by  the  great  success 
everywhere  attending  their  former  associate's  enterprises  and  the 
consequent  failures  of  their  own  exhibitions,  on  a  trumped-up 
charge  of  alleged  slander,  procured  a  warrant  for  the  arrest  of 
Rice,  and  had  him  incarcerated  in  the  so-called  "  Blue  Eagle  " 
Jail.  The  sheriff  who  executed  the  warrant  was  known  as 
"  Wooden-leg  "  Chamberlain. 

Dan  Rice  did  more  to  increase  the  fame  of  the  "  Blue  Eagle  " 
Jail  than  any  other  living  man.  He  it  was  who  christened  it  the 
"  Blue  Eagle/7  the  name  by  which  it  has  been  known  all  over  the 
country.  Dan  Rice  was  arrested  by  Sheriff  Chamberlain,  and 
confined  in  the  "  Blue  Eagle  "  in  the  fall  of  1850,  and  the  ex 
planation  and  history  of  his  confinement  he  gives  in  his  once 
famous  song  given  below.  This  song  was  written  on  the  wall  of 
the  jail  by  Rice  himself,  and  the  words  herewith  were  taken  from 
a  copy  made  many  years  ago,  and  is  supposed  to  be  the  only  one 
now  in  existence.  The  writing  has  become  so  faded  by  age  that 
it  was  almost  impossible  to  decipher  it,  in  fact  parts  of  the  last 
two  lines  have  entirely  disappeared.  It  has  been  stated  that  the 
inscriptions  made  by  Mr.  Rice  on  the  jail  wall  are  still  visible. 
This  statement  is  erroneous,  because  many  years  afterwards  it 
was  entirely  obliterated.  Visitors  to  the  jail  would  invariably 
inquire  which  was  the  cell  Dan  Rice,  the  clown,  occupied.  So 
popular  was  the  song  that  persons  of  all  ages  and  sexes  were 
wrought  up  to  such  a  state  of  excitement  and  sympathy,  that 
they  would  shed  tears,  and  for  years  Rice  could  never  get  out 
8 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

of  the  ring  without  singing  that  song — visiting  the  same  places 
annually.  Parents  would  sing  the  song  and  transmit  it  to  their 
children,  and  some  are  still  singing  it  to-day  in  many  places  in 
California  and  Oregon.  The  song  was  written  to  the  air  of  the 
"  Landlord's  Pet/'  an  old  English  tune. 

THE    SONG: 

Kind  gentlefolks,  all  give  ear  to  my  ditty, 

While  I  relate  a  sad  tale, 
What  happened  to  me  in  Kochester  City 

Where  I  was  in  "  Blue  Eagle  "  jail; 
But  to  tell  you  the  cause,  and  the  cause  of  the  cause 

It  would  cause  you  to  sit  here  some  time, 
But  as  you  and  I  do  not  wish  to  cry, 

Therefore  I  will  be  brief  in  my  rhyme. 

A  man  named  Van  Orden,  I'd  have  you  to  know, 

Who  was  at  one  time  my  agent, 
He  stole  my  farm  and  stole  my  show, 

And  robbed  me  of  every  cent; 
And  because  I  told  the  public  so, 

It  raised  this  gentleman's  dander; 
So  at  Pittsford,  in  the  County  Monroe, 

He  had  me  arrested  for  slander. 

I  being  a  stranger,  and  unknown  in  town, 

Therefore  I  knew  no  bail, 
So  the  sheriff  straightway  took  the  clown 

Down  to  "  Blue  Eagle'"  jail. 
And  my  bail  when  it  came  could  be  no  better, 

It  came  from  Albany  town; 
Accompanying  it  was  the  lawyer's  letter 

Saying,  "  It  is  good  bail  for  the  clown." 

But  there  I  stayed  for  one  long  week, 

Because  they  would  not  take  my  bail. 
I  believe  the  sheriff  and  Van  were  colleagued 

And  determined  to  keep  me  in  jail. 
For  which  I  blowed  them  up  sky  high 

Every  night  played  in  the  town, 
And  stated  facts  they  could  not  deny. 

All  about  their  misusing  the  clown. 

The  citizens  then  did  all  complain 

Of  the  sheriff  who  used  me  so  mean. 
Their  names  were  Pardee  and  Chamberlain, 

Two  of  the  meanest  men  ever  seen. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    -DAN    BICE  115 

I  know  they  were  prevailed  on  to  refuse  bail 

By  Mr.  Van  Orden  &  Co., 
And  there  I  was  kept  in  the  "  Blue  Eagle  "  jail, 

By  "  Dot  and  go  one  "  of  Monroe. 

For  my  appearance  at  court  I  then  did  give  bail. 

A  bail  they  could  not  refuse, 
And  I  bid  farewell  to  the  "  Blue  Eagle  "  jail, 

The  moment  that  I  was  let  loose. 
So  here  I  am  as  you  do  see 

These  matters  to  explain, 
I  am  determined  to  show  up  rascality 

If  they  put  me  in  the  "  Blue  Eagle  "  again! 

In  exposing  Van  Orden,  I  never  will  cease 

As  long  as  my  name  it  is  Dan, 
He  had  me  arrested  for  saying  that  he  was  a  thief, 

Which  I  am  to  prove,  and  I  can, 
For  he  knows  full  well  it  is  the  truth  I  tell, 

For  a  greater  villain  than  he  never  run, 
So  on  my  fortune  he  cuts  a  great  swell, 

Which  money  was  made  by  my  fun. 

So  good  gentlemen  here,  and  kind  ladies  all, 

It  is  now  I  must  close  up  my  song 
Of  my  ups  and  downs  on  the  raging  canal, 

And  how  I  have  been  getting  along; 
But  one  word  I  must  say  before  I  go  away, 

And  then  my  song  is  at  an  end: 
If  you  would  avoid  a-going  astray, 

Never  trust  too  much  to  a  friend. 


CHAPTER    XIV. 

JESTER  AND  JUDGE — A  CLOSE  CALL — RICE^S  REMARKABLE 
NERVE — THE  "YANKEE  YAHOO  " — A  STATE  SECRET — 
SPAULDING  AND  ROGERS*  TREACHERY — FOILED  BY  THE 
PILOT — IN  THE  ARKANSAS  WILDERNESS — DAN  RICE  HIS 
OWN  ADVANCE  AGENT — MEETING  WITH  TOM  MAY,  THE 
WESTERN  OUTLAW — A  SENSATIONAL  EPISODE — THE  START 
LING  SEQUEL  TO  A  DREAM — THE  SNUFF-DIPPER?S  STORY. 

WHEN  the  winter  season  closed  in  the  latter  part  of  March, 
1852,  the  Great  Show  started  North,  exhibiting  along 
the  Mississippi  and  Ohio  Eivers,  and  eventually  brought  up  at 


116  KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

St.  Louis  the  following  August.  Among  the  many  spicy  adven 
tures  which  served  to  enliven  the  homeward  journey,  two  inci 
dents  are  worthy  of  more  than  passing  notice.  While  exhibiting 
in  New  Madrid,  Mo.,  the  local  Justice  of  the  Peace,  a  veritable 
"  Poo-Bah  "  in  that  section,  came  shambling  down  to  the  circus 
in  cowhides  and  clay-pipe  outfit,  looking  more  like  a  hobo  than 
a  Lord  High  "  Executioner  "  of  justice. 

Colonel  Eice  took  exception  to  his  tramp-like  tendency  to 
shuffle  and  lounge  about,  and,  of  course,  not  knowing  who  he 
was,  ordered  him  away.  On  his  refusal  to  go,  Mr.  Rice  handled 
him  pretty  roughly  in  the  process  of  ejection.  The  old  judge 
left,  vowing  vengeance. 

In  about  an  hour  a  messenger  came  hurrying  to  the  circus  and 
informed  the  Colonel  that  the  judge  was  coming  down  with  a 
pistol  to  shoot  him.  As  soon  as  the  latter  heard  the  name  of  the 
object  of  his  wrath  mentioned  by  his  friend  he  recalled  the  mem 
ories  of  many  a  desperate  encounter  in  which  the  grizzly  "  fire- 
eater  "  had  figured.  Rice  was  inclined  at  first  to  avoid  a  collision, 
but  when  the  justice  came  swaggering  down  the  wharf,  horse- 
pistol  in  hand,  and  filling  the  atmosphere  with  sundry  hints  about 
"  Yankee  Yahoos,"  etc.,  Colonel  Rice  hurried  down  the  gangway 
of  the  steamboat  and,  snatching  the  "  shooting  iron  "  from  the 
grasp  of  the  man,  deliberately  fired  its  contents  into  the  air.  Then 
turning  to  the  thoroughly  rattled  justice,  he  handed  the  gun 
back,  remarking,  "  Here,  judge,  is  your  pepper-box.  I  am  Dan 
Rice."  The  former  was  stumped.  The  latter,  however,  with  a 
tactful  eye  to  business,  the  circus  opening  that  night,  extended  his 
hand  and  invited  the  dispenser  of  justice  to  join  him  in  a  drink. 
Explanations  followed  and  many  other  things  until  the  "  wee 
hours  "  of  the  morning  at  the  conclusion  of  the  performance. 

The  judicial  gentleman  above  referred  to  afterwards  became  a 
very  pillar  of  strength  in  the  national  politics  of  the  country. 
For  obvious  reasons  his  name  is  not  disclosed. 

The  other  adventure  previously  referred  to  happened  while 
en  route  a  few  days  later.  Spaulding  and  Rogers  had  constructed 
at  Cincinnati  a  floating  amphitheatre,  or  "  Marine  Palace/'  em 
bracing  a  ring,  auditorium,  etc.,  wherein  they  gave  performances. 
The  undertaking,  however,  was  operated  at  a  heavy  loss,  and  was 
finally  abandoned. 

As  the  reader  may  recall,  a  bitter  rivalry  had  existed  since  1849 
between  Spaulding,  Van  Orden  &  Co.  and  the  Great  Jester.  The 
latter  waged  war  against  his  enemies  on  legitimate  lines  as  an 
honest  competitor;  the  former  carried  on  their  campaign  against 
him  through  disreputable  methods.  They,  failing  to  compete 
successfully,  inaugurated  a  system  of  persecuting  opposition,  be 
setting  him  with  the  tricks  and  devices  and  cowardly  resources 


KEMIXISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  117 

characteristic  of  the  guerilla.  It  was  rule  or  ruin,  a  question 
of  the  survival  of  the  fittest.  It  was  a  most  costly  struggle  for 
supremacy,  carried  as  it  was  for  four  long  years,  entailing  an 
outlay  of  over  one  hundred  thousand  dollars  by  Colonel  Rice. 

They  resorted  to  every  contemptible  stratagem  to  injure  one 
whom  they  frequently  tried,  but  failed,  to  ruin.  An  instance  in 
point.  It  appears  they  were  a  day  ahead  of  Rice's  show  on  the 
Mississippi.  On  the  way  to  Caseyville  the  "  Marine  Palace  "  ran 
aground.  It  took  them  nearly  a  day  to  sheer  off,  when,  in  order 
to  place  Rice's  in  a  similar  predicament,  they  anchored  the  buoys 
so  as  to  effect  that  result,  and  then  hove  to  three  or  four  miles 
above  to  await  developments.  But  the  pilot,  Allan  Sutton,  quickly 
noticing  the  displacement  of  the  buoys,  slowed  the  boat,  ordered 
the  lead  to  be  heaved,  and,  striking  the  channel,  passed  safely  on. 
It  was  a  very  transparent  trick,  and  so,  as  the  Rice  boat  steamed 
past  the  u  Palace,"  the  latter  was  greeted  with  ironical  cheers. 
The  following  song,  illustrative  of  the  event,  was  composed  and 
sung  by  Mr.  Rice  at  the  next  stopping  place: 

Some  New  York  sharps,  I'd  have  you  know, 

They  struck  upon  a  plan — 
They  built  a  boat  on  the  river  to  float 

To  ruin  this  old  fool  Dan, 
And  as  they  failed  in  previous  attempts, 

And  found  it  was  no  go, 
They  surely  thought  the  "  Palace  "  would  prevent 

Success  to  the  one-horse  show. 
And  oh,  the  one-horse  show,  my  boys, 

It  is  the  show  for  fun; 
And  like  this  country's  motto, 

You  find  us  "  many  in  one." 

This  floating  scow  from  Cincinnati, 

Which  passed  here  the  other  day, 
The  mechanics  there  that  did  work  at  her 

Did  not  get  all  their  pay, 
Notwithstanding  they  were  told 

By  Messrs.  Van  Orden  &  Co. 
That  Commodore  Spanieling  had  plenty  of  gold 

To  ruin  the  one-horse  show. 
And  now,  if  he  has  plenty  of  gold, 

Then  I  should  like  to  know 
"Why  the  "  Palace  "  was  attached  and  nearly  sold 

By  the  friends  of  the  one-horse  show. 

They  try  to  ring  the  public  in 
By  a  church-bell  chime, 


118  REMINISCENCES    Ol1    DAN    E1CE 

And  after  you  have  paid  your  money, 

All  you  hear  is  an  organ  grind, 
Which  squeaks  and  squalls  most  mournfully, 

And  makes  a  doleful  sound, 
And  seems  to  say,  "  Oh,  sinners  pray, 

Why  the  devil  don't  you  kneel  down 
And  prepare  to  meet  your  fate;  " 

Which  I  tell  them  is  below, 
Or  return  to  Dan  before  it's  too  late, 

What  belongs  to  him  and  his  one-horse  show. 

They  tried  to  catch  me  in  a  trap 

As  I  left  Shawneytown; 
At  Caseyville  they  laid  false  buoys 

To  lead  me  hard  aground, 
But  Allan  Button  was  wide-awake, 

And  knew  the  channel  to  a  spot; 
Says  he,  "  Old  Zac  can  never  be  caught 

In  such  a  shallow  plot." 
Our  manager,  Whitbeck,  stood  on  our  deck 

A-laughing  at  the  "  Scow," 
His  compliments  to  Spaulding  sent, 

To  beware  of  the  one-horse  show. 

It's  now  we  are  over  Treadwater  Bar, 

All  dirty  tricks  we  shun, 
We  always  keep  in  channel  deep, 

And  follow  the  rising  sun. 
So  you  wealthy  men  on  the  floating  scow, 

To  the  breeze  unfold  your  flag, 
But  do  not  touch  the  one-horse  show, 

For  it's  an  awful  snag. 
So  leave  me  alone,  keep  to  yourselves, 

To  break  me  is  no  go, 
For  the  joke  is  out,  when  Dan's  about 

With  his  awful  one-horse  show. 

It  was  in  the  spring  of  1852,  after  a  season  of  the  hardest  work 
the  great  clown  had  ever  accomplished  in  fighting  his  old  antag 
onists,  Spaulding  and  Van  Orden.  He  arranged  the  route  for 
his  "  One-Horse  Show "  on  the  river  to  secure  for  himself  a 
month's  respite  to  recuperate,  as  he  was  almost  exhausted,  both 
in  mind  and  body,  with  the  heavy  demands  upon  his  artistic 
powers,  in  filling  nearly  a  six  months'  season  of  the  most  ex 
traordinary  efforts  of  his  life  of  vagaries  and  in  accomplishing  the 
success  of  defeating  his  enemies,  driving  them  out  of  the  "  Old 


FREDERICK    WALLET1,    THE    ENGLISH   CLOWN 


REMINISCENCES    OP    DAN    RICE  119 

American  Theatre/'  they  absconding  under  the  cover  of  darkness 
to  the  city  of  Mobile.  He  had  arranged  for  his  agent,  Fred 
Hunt,  to  advertise  the  river,  leaving  out  all  the  large  towns,  as 
far  as  Napoleon,  taking  only  plantations  on  the  way,  and  giving 
only  afternoon  performances  each  day,  as  the  planters  would  not 
permit  their  slaves  to  be  out  at  night.  But  Hunt,  not  favoring 
the  idea  of  subjecting  himself  to  the  dangerous  element  that  in 
fested  Arkansas,  declined  to  advertise  the  interior;  so  Mr.  Rice 
concluded  to  fill  his  place,  and  represent  the  interests  of  his 
profession,  by  becoming  his  own  agent.  He  therefore  gave  in 
structions  to  the  management  what  course  to  pursue  on  the  route, 
leaving  out  the  cities,  as  his  absence  in  the  ring  would  have 
proved  disastrous  in  prominent  places,  and  proceeded  on  his 
journey  alone,  taking  with  him  a  case  of  show  bills. 

He  took  the  steamer  "  Xatchez  "  at  New  Orleans,  and,  as  he 
himself  was  commander  of  the  circus  boat  "  The  United  States 
Aid,"  it  was  most  fitting  for  Capt.  Dan  Eice  to  become  the  guest 
of  Capt.  Tom  Leathers,  commander  of  the  "  Natchez."  Mr. 
Rice  intended  to  go  as  far  as  Chico,  now  called  Arkansas  City, 
and  during  the  journey  was  introduced  to  Mr.  Shears,  whom  Cap 
tain  Leathers  called  his  "  most  honored  friend/'  and  requested 
him,  when  they  reached  Chico,  to  "  Let  Dan  have  a  team  of  horses 
to  drive  through  the  country,  for  he  wants  to  advertise  his  '  One- 
Horse  Show'  in  all  the  towns  up  the  Arkansas  River  as  far  as 
Fort  Smith,  and  he  will  ship  them  back  to  you  from  Memphis 
by  boat.  And  I'll  stand  good  for  it." 

And  now  began  the  journey  by  land.  Arriving  at  a  settle 
ment,  now  called  Monticello,  consisting  of  a  few  habitations,  and 
about  thirty  miles  from  Arkansas  City,  he  next  day  proceeded 
to  Pine  Bluff,  a  distance  of  fifty  miles;  thence  to  Little  Rock,  the 
capital  of  the  great  State  of  "  bowie  knives,"  but  which  is  now, 
in  1900,  one  of  the  most  peaceful,  progressive,  productive,  and 
hospitable  states  in  the  grand  constellation.  Mr.  Rice  adver 
tised  the  rest  of  the  towns  as  far  as  Van  Buren,  six  miles  below 
Fort  Smith,  where  the  news  came  by  stage  that  the  river  was 
rapidly  falling,  and  it  would  be  disastrous  to  make  any  attempt 
to  ascend  the  Arkansas.  He  then  engaged  a  messenger  who  was 
highly  recommended  by  the  landlord  of  the  hotel,  as  the  best 
man  he  could  secure  for  the  requirements  of  the  case,  as  he  was 
well  acquainted  with  the  whole  country  and  knew  the  character 
istics  of  its  people.  He  was  sent  with  a  letter  of  instructions  to 
the  manager  pro  tern,  of  the  show,  and  was  to  await  its  arrival 
at  Napoleon,  a  town  at  the  mouth  of  the  Arkansas  River.  From 
there  the  management  went  to  Helena,  and  Mr.  Hunt  preceded 
it  to  Memphis,  to  advertise  it  for  one  week. 

Stopping  at  the  same  hotel  there  was  an  agent  of  General  Ross, 


120  BEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    HICE 

the  chief  of  the  Cherokee  Indians,  who  was  on  his  way  to  Nash 
ville,  Tenn.,  and  as  a  couple  of  days  would  elapse  before  the 
arrival  of  the  stage,  at  the  suggestion  of  the  landlord,  Mr.  Eice 
consented  to  give  the  Ross  agent  a  seat  in  his  wagon  as  far  as 
Batesville,  a  distance  of  one  hundred  or  more  miles.  In  fact 
he  was  glad  of  the  agent's  company,  for  hitherto  he  had  been 
travelling  alone;  circus  agents  at  that  time  doing  their  work 
singly,  without  the  assistance  of  a  staff  of  employees  equal  to  that 
of  an  army  general,  as  is  the  system  now  in  vogue.  Well,  they 
started  in  the  afternoon  and  remained  that  night  at  the  house 
of  a  farmer,  eighteen  miles  distant.  This  man,  Tom  May,  bore 
the  reputation  of  having  killed  several  men,  and,  at  one  time, 
belonged  to  the  notorious  Murrell  gang  of  land  pirates. 

After  the  evening  repast  they  were  ushered  in  the  dim  twi 
light  to  a  loft,  where  a  couple  of  cots  and  straw  beds  were  pre 
pared  for  them  to  pass  the  night.  It  was  early  in  the  evening, 
but  candles  or  lamps  would  have  been  deemed  extravagant  luxu 
ries,  not  to  be  indulged  in,  or  even  thought  of,  in  Tom  May's 
household.  However,  the  weather  was  quite  cool  and  the  rough 
roads  that  impeded  their  travel  had  predisposed  them  to  sleep, 
which  they  did  soundly  until  about  four  o'clock  in  the  morning, 
when  Mr.  Eice  was  awakened  by  the  Indian  agent,  who  asked  if 
he  had  observed  any  one  enter  the  loft  during  the  night.  Mr. 
Eice,  half  asleep,  replied  in  the  negative,  and  was  turning  over 
to  finish  his  nap  when  the  agent  said  that  some  one  had  robbed 
him  of  his  belt. 

At  this  information  Mr.  Eice  became  wide-awake,  and  excitedly 
rising  from  his  cot,  inquired  of  the  agent  what  he  meant.  Show 
ing  a  red  mark  around  his  waist,  evidently  the  impression  made  by 
a  girdle,  he  replied  that  it  was  gone,  and  that  it  contained  notes 
and  gold  to  the  amount  of  ten  thousand  dollars,  which  had  been 
intrusted  to  him  to  purchase  supplies  for  the  Indian  Nation. 
After  this  there  was  no  more  sleep  for  Mr.  Eice,  who  rose  and 
made  an  ineffectual  search  in  the  agent's  cot  for  the  missing  belt. 
A  knowledge  of  the  bad  reputation  of  Tom  May,  the  landlord, 
caused  them  to  form  the  conclusion  that  during  the  night  he  had 
entered  the  room  and  taken  it  from  the  agent's  person.  The 
latter  had  a  forlorn  hope  that  it  might  have  become  unbuckled 
the  night  previous,  while  at  Van  Buren,  and  had  slipped  from 
his  waist  to  the  bed  while  he  slept.  Meanwhile,  during  this  un 
certainty,  Mr.  Eice  was  most  unhappy,  for  he  was  jealous  of  his 
character  and  reputation,  and  he  naturally  concluded  that  the 
loss  of  such  a  considerable  sum  of  money  by  a  roommate  would 
cast  reflection  of  suspicion  upon  him,  especially  as  circus  people 
then,  as  now,  did  not  bear  a  too  immaculate  reputation.  He 
therefore  offered  to  drive  the  agent  back  to  Van  Buren  to  investi- 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAX    RICE  121 

gate  the  affair  of  the  lost  belt,  and  declining  the  breakfast  of  corn 
dodgers  and  rusty  bacon  which  the  Indian  agent,  despite  his  loss, 
appeared  to  relish,  he  hastened  to  the  barn,  harnessed  his  horses, 
and  then  drove  to  the  house  to  settle  his  bill.  He  was  surprised 
to  meet  the  agent  at  the  farmhouse  door  with  his  face  wreathed 
with  smiles.  "  I  have  found  my  belt!  "  he  excitedly  exclaimed. 
u  How?  Where  was  it?"  asked  Mr.  Eice,  equally  excited. 
"  Well,"  said  the  agent,  u  I'll  tell  you.  While  sitting  at  break 
fast  I  all  at  once  remembered  a  dream  I  had  during  the  night.  I 
thought  that  Tom  May  was  after  my  money  and  I  arose,  and 
standing  upon  the  cot,  unbuckled  my  belt  and  thrust  it  among 
the  rafters  overhead.  This  dream,  as  I  have  said,  occurred  to  me 
while  eating,  and  I  immediately  went  up  to  the  loft,  and,  standing 
upon  the  cot,  I  thrust  my  arm  among  the  rafters,  and,  sure 
enough,  it  was  there." 

This,  to  Mr.  Rice,  was  an  agreeable  finale  to  that  which  had 
threatened  to  become  a  serious  adventure.  Had  the  agent  not 
remembered  the  dream,  the  belt  might  have  remained  hidden 
until  this  day,  or,  until  the  house  was  eventually  torn  down  to  give 
place  to  a  more  pretentious  dwelling  in  the  progressing  age. 
And  Mr.  Rice  and  old  Tom  May  would  have  remained  mutually 
suspicious  of  each  other  through  the  circumstantial  evidence  of 
guilt.  He  often  met  Tom  in  after  years  at  his  woodyard  several 
miles  below  Little  Rock  on  the  Arkansas  River,  where  he  pur 
chased  a  large  tract  of  timber  land.  Having  previously  lost  his 
wife,  he  lived  there  a  hermit  life,  managing  his  woodyard  and 
negro  slaves. 

The  exciting  scenes  of  that  night  caused  the  Indian  agent  to 
change  his  plans,  and  he  decided  to  retrace  his  steps,  deeming  the 
journey  to  Batesville  too  hazardous  to  venture.  He  also  advised 
Mr.  Rice  to  do  the  same,  pointing  out  the  perils  of  the  route 
through  that  rough  and  lawless  country.  But  Mr.  Rice  was 
guided  by  his  native  courage,  and  decided  to  carry  out  his  pre 
viously  matured  plans,  and  proceeded  on  the  journey.  The  agent 
finding  his  advice  of  no  avail,  hired  Tom  May  to  take  him  back 
to  Van  Buren,  and  thus  Mr.  Rice  parted  with  him  and  never  saw 
or  heard  of  him  afterward. 

On  the  way  to  Batesville  he  passed  through  the  most  poverty- 
stricken  and  benighted  country  that  ever  befell  the  fate  of  a 
traveller,  and  one  that  even  a  man  of  experience  would  not  be 
anxious  to  revisit  again.  But  being  possessed  of  an  indomitable 
will  he  pressed  onward  until  evening,  and  as  he  had  travelled 
many  miles  and  saw  no  cabins  in  sight,  he  was  fearful  of  having 
to  remain  in  the  woods  until  daylight.  Still  continuing  on  in 
the  darkness,  he,  all  at  once,  heard  the  barking  of  dogs,  and  was 
overjoyed  to  find  by  a  dim  light  that  a  habitation  was  near.  He 


122  KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    1UCE 

approached  a  good-sized  cabin,  when  a  pack  of  hounds  came 
bounding  out  to  make  it  known  that  a  stranger  was  near.  Mr. 
Eice  halted  near  the  cabin  and  a  tall  woman  appeared  to  put  an 
end  to  the  canine  pandemonium.  He  asked  the  lady  if  it  would 
be  convenient  for  her  to  allow  him  to  remain  during  the  night 
and  furnish  him  with  supper  and  have  the  horses  fed  and  shel 
tered.  She  replied  that  if  he  could  put  up  with  the  accommoda 
tions  she  had  to  offer.,  he  was  quite  welcome  to  stay,  but  would 
have  to  look  after  his  own  horses,  as  her  "  man  is  away,  and  thar's 
no  tellin'  when  he'll  git  home,  fur  he  went  to  Batesville  to  'tend 
the  'lection."  While  the  horses  were  being  fed  and  attended  the 
hostess  busied  herself  in  preparing  the  evening  meal,  which  con 
sisted  of  pork  and  hoe-cake,  and  a  very  mild  ingredient  to  which 
she  gave  the  exhilarating  name  of  coffee.  However,  it  was  all 
very  acceptable  to  Mr.  Kice,  who  rather  enjoyed  the  novelty  of  the 
occasion,  and  his  humorous  propensities  were  ever  on  the  alert 
to  make  the  best  of  the  situation  that  was  forced  upon  him  by 
a  series  of  circumstances. 

While  he  was  enduring  the  repast  with  all  the  fortitude  of  his 
nature,  the  conversation  that  had  also  proved  meagre  in  its  de 
tails  began  to  lag  until  it  reached  a  point  where  Mr.  Eice  sought 
to  enliven  it  by  his  ingenious,  happy  faculties.  By  way  of  a 
preliminary,  he  asked  the  woman  if  she  had  a  family,  and  being 
informed  that  she  was  the  mother  of  six  children,  he  brought  his 
observation  to  bear  upon  the  individual  before  him,  and  found 
her  to  be  a.  tall,  gaunt  creature  whose  pale  face  and  pinched  fea 
tures  betrayed  the  results  of  a  life  warped  by  the  fate  of  surround 
ing  circumstances. 

The  conversation  continued  to  prove  so  uninteresting  in  its 
nature  that  it  finally  ceased  entirely,  so  there  was  no  other  alter 
native  for  our  hero  but  to  submit  to  the  inevitable. 

As  the  time  wore  on  and  night  advanced,  the  monotony  in 
creased,  and  the  woman,  weary  with  waiting  for  her  husband,  fell 
asleep  in  Mr.  Eice's  presence.  While  his  mind  was  ruminating 
on  his  strange  adventures  and  dwelling  on  the  possibilities  of  his 
business  prospects  in  that  wild  district,  the  sleeping  woman  all 
at  once  gave  a  most  appalling  shriek,  which  not  only  awakened 
her  from  slumber,  but  also  startled  the  weary  traveller  from  his 
reveries.  With  that  bewildering  air  that  comes  to  the  suddenly 
awakened  sleeper,  the  woman  exclaimed,  "  Jim,  did  you  kill  that 
cowardly  cuss  that  insulted  me?  "  But,  recognizing  at  last  the 
fact  that  she  was  addressing  a  stranger  instead  of  her  husband, 
and  being  aware  that  he  could  not  return  without  her  knowledge, 
she  remarked  by  way  of  apology,  that  she  "  hed  bin  dreamin',  and 
would  go  to  bed,"  which  she  did,  wishing  him  a  good  night's  rest. 
Before  she  left  the  room,  however,  Mr.  Eice,  having  a  curiosity  to 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  123 

know  of  whose  hospitality  he  was  partaking,  asked  his  hostess 
to  inform  him  as  to  whom  her  husband  was,  and  she  told  him  that 
his  name  was  u  Jim  May,  brother  of  Tom  May,  who  lives  a  few 
miles  from  Van  Buren." 

Our  hero  was  uneasy  at  this  startling  news,  and  debated  in  his 
mind  whether  it  was  quite  prudent  to  remain  under  a  roof  whose 
master  was  one  of  the  notorious  Mays  who  raided  the  country  in 
connection  with  a  lawless  gang  that  brought  terror  to  the  re 
spectable  element,  and  threatened  individual  safety.  He  at  once 
concluded  that  he  was  in  a  very  dangerous  position,  particularly 
if  the  man  May  should  return  and  find  him  a  guest  in  his  home; 
but,  being  naturally  gifted  with  a  courage  that  was  always  ready 
to  adjust  circumstances  as  the  present  required,  he  prepared  him 
self  for  any  emergency  that  would  be  likely  to  meet  him  unawares. 
So  holding  his  revolver  by  his  side  with  his  finger  on  the  trigger, 
he  felt  that  he  was  comparatively  secure,  and  tried  to  banish  all 
thoughts  of  the  unpleasant  situation,  endeavoring,  at  the  same 
time,  "  to  woo  the  drowsy  god  to  his  embrace/' 

All  at  once  the  dogs  outside  began  to  bark,  and  the  noise 
created  such  a  state  of  excitement  that  Mr.  Rice  was  impressed 
with  the  idea  that  May  had  returned,  and,  should  he  be  seen  by 
the  outlaw,  had  his  trusty  weapon  ready  to  meet  any  aggressive 
demonstration  from  the  desperate  fellow,  and  also  preserved  an 
outward  calm  that  would  have  deceived  even  Jim  May  himself. 
But  it  proved  to  be  a  false  alarm,  however,  for  the  dogs  soon 
ceased  barking,  and  everything  around  and  about  the  cabin  set 
tled  into  quiet  and  repose.  The  night  was  well  advanced  and  he 
was  beginning  to  feel  an  assurance  that  circumstances  would  so 
shape  themselves  that  all  trouble  would  be  avoided  should  the 
man  chance  to  return.  And  without  any  further  apprehension 
in  regard  to  the  possibilities  that  might  occur,  he  again  tried  to 
woo  the  god  of  slumber.  As  the  moment  of  forgetful  ness  was 
near  at  hand  and  the  experiences  of  the  night  previous  were  be 
coming  obliterated,  our  weary  traveller  was  again  aroused  by  a 
muffled  noise  in  the  adjoining  apartment,  and,  while  conjecturing 
as  to  its  cause,  in  a  moment  he  was  startled  by  seeing  a  tall,  white 
figure  emerge  from  the  room  with  a  bundle  in  its  arms.  It  si 
lently  approached  the  fireplace  and,  bending  over  the  hearth, 
rolled  the  bundle  in  some  loose  ashes  and  then  quietly  retired. 
This  strange,  peculiar  proceeding  tended  still  further  to  banish 
sleep,  and  Mr.  Rice  lay  cogitating  upon  it,  when  he  again  heard 
a  repetition  of  the  same  noise  emanating  from  the  room,  and 
from  it  emerged  the  figure  with,  apparently,  the  same  bundle  in 
her  arms.  The  operation  was  again  performed  by  rolling  it  in 
the  ashes  and  a  silent  disappearance  as  in  the  former  case.  After 
these  singular  proceedings  nothing  more  occurred  to  disturb  the 


124  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

stillness  of  the  remaining  night,  and  soon  the  day  began  to  dawn, 
much  to  the  relief  of  Mr.  Rice,  who  was  thoroughly  exhausted  by 
his  experiences  of  the  past  two  days.  He  took  leave  of  his  hostess 
at  the  earliest  possible  moment,  when  she  said  to  him  as  he  took 
his  departure,  "'  Stranger,  if  you  meet  my  man,  Jim,  on  your  way 
to  Batesville,  don't  tell  him  you  stayed  all  night  here,  fur  he's 
orful  jealous  of  me!  "  Mr.  Eice  told  her  that  she  might  rest  as 
sured  that  he  would  never  mention  it  to  any  one.  And  he  gave 
double  assurance  in  his  expression  when  he  remembered  what 
she  had  uttered  in  her  delirious  dream.  Still  having  a  desire  to 
satisfy  his  curiosity  as  to  the  strange  proceedings  of  the  past 
night,  he  said  to  the  woman  at  parting,  "  Will  you  tell  me  the 
reason  why  you  came  into  the  room  so  many  times  during  the 
night,  and  each  time  rolled  a  bundle  of  something  in  the  loose 
ashes  on  the  hearth?"  "  Oh,"  she  replied,  "we've  hed  a  long 
drout.  No  rain  fur  several  months,  an'  ther  little  spring  nigh 
a  mile  away  jes  gives  nuff  to  drink,  and  bile  yams,  an'  it's  rily  at 
thet.  So  you  see  I  can't  wash  clo'es  or  nothin'  else  an'  the 
children  are  so  greasy  an'  dirty,  they  slip  out  of  the  bed,  an'  when 
they  do,  I  hev  to  get  up  an'  roll  them  in  the  ashes  to  make  'em 
stick  to  the  bedclo'es."  From  what  our  hero  saw  in  that  forlorn 
household  during  his  forced  sojourn  there,  he  knew  the  poor 

"  snuff  dipping  "  woman  had  told  the  truth. 

********* 

In  the  winter  of  1852  while  exhibiting  in  New  Orleans  (in 
Frenchtown),  Spaulding  &  Rogers,  who  were  still  dogging  with 
vengeful  persistence  the  path  of  the  Great  Clown,  came  along 
with  their  "  combination  "  and  "  staked  "  their  canvas  on  an  ad 
joining  lot,  expecting  to  play  a  successful  game  of  freeze-out. 
But  the  people  would  have  none  of  them.  In  two  days  Uncle 
Dan  called  their  hands,  and  so,  in  the  vernacular  of  the  "  green- 
cloth,"  chilled  feet  resulted. 

Spaulding  had  with  him  at  that  time  the  great  English  clown, 
William  F.  Wallett.  The  dressing-rooms  of  the  two  shows  were 
not  far  apart.  Between  the  acts,  the  famous  American  Clown, 
as  well  known  for  his  magnanimity  as  for  his  genius,  in  motley 
garb,  invited  Wallett  to  come  into  his  circus  and  he  would  intro 
duce  him.  Arm  in  arm  the  two  clowns  walked  into  the  ring  in  the 
garb  of  their  respective  nationalities.  After  the  introduction, 
Uncle  Dan  made  a  brief  speech,  saying  he  considered  Mr.  Wallett 
a  personal  friend  and  hoped  he  would  meet  with  a  cordial  welcome 
from  the  citizens  of  the  Crescent  City,  and  begged  to  assure  that 
gentleman  that  as  long  as  he  remained  on  American  soil  he  should 
never  go  hungry  for  the  lack  of  Rice.  Wallett  responded  with 
his  accustomed  wit  and  repartee,  assuring  his  American  friend 
that  his  "  Wallett "  should  ever  be  at  his  disposal. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  125 

A  disagreement  later  on  with  Spaulding  resulted  in  Mr.  Eice 
securing  Wallett's  services  for  four  weeks'  engagement,  during 
which  Rice  and  he  alternately  played  clown  and  ringmaster  to 
tremendous  audiences. 


CHAPTEE   XV. 

AT  NEW  ORLEANS — INAUGURATION  OF  DAN  RICE'S  MAMMOTH 
AMPHITHEATRE — A  REMARKABLE  POPULAR  UPRISING — A 
UNIQUE  DRAMATIC  INCIDENT — A  CLOWN  IN  TEARS — COL. 
RICE'S  TERRIBLE  ARRAIGNMENT — ORGANIZATION  OF  THE 
SOUTHERN  MUSEUM. 

IX  the  fall  of  1853,  Colonel  Eice  erected  on  Charles  Street,  Xew 
Orleans,  where  the  Academy  of  Music  now  stands,  one  of  the 
most  magnificent  places  of  amusement  ever  constructed  in  the 
Crescent  City. 

It  was  known  as  Dan  Eice's  Amphitheatre.  In  all  probability 
it  marked  up  to  that  time  the  most  memorable  epoch  in  his 
career.  Despite  the  horror  of  the  fact  that  the  yellow  fever  was 
raging  at  this,  period,  counting  its  victims  by  the  thousands,  and 
that,  as  a  consequence  of  the  devastating  pestilence,  a  panic  had 
prostrated  every  branch  of  industry,  the  auditorium  on  the  open 
ing  night  overflowed  with  the  most  enthusiastic  audience  that 
Colonel  Eice  says  he  had  ever  greeted  in  any  section  of  the 
country. 

Colonel  Eice  delivered  the  following  characteristic  extempo 
raneous  prologue  on  that  occasion: 

Yes,  my  kind  friends,  I  am  here  in  Xew  Orleans. 

And  at  the  thought  fond  memory  pictures  many  scenes. 

This  theatre  of  my  trials,  triumphs,  fortune,  fame, 

All  good  that  clusters  round  my  humble  name. 

Xay,  start  not,  politician,  sage,  or  hero, 

A  clown  may  have  a  fame  as  well  as  Xero, 

Byron,  Payne,  or  any  other  elf, 

Born  to  annoy  the  world  and  to  confound  himself. 

The  jester's  name  on  page  historic  glows 

In  colors  bright  and  happy,  but  the  woes 

Of  fellow  mortals  ne'er  come  down 

To  make  him  famous,  or  to  give  renown; 

And  is  its  mention  worthy  of  your  sneers, 

Because  it  is  not  built  on  orphans'  cries  or  maidens'  tears? 

But  I'll  not  argue — mine's  above  all  measure, 

It  fills  my  purse,  so  'tis  a  priceless  treasure; 


126  EEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

And  if  to  posterity  it  never  descends, 
Your  presence  here  to-night  makes  all  amends. 
So  to  my  task,  for  it  is  my  delight 
To  see  you  here,  as  it  will  be  every  night, 
And  as  your  acquaintance  I  wish  much  longer, 
May  friendship's  bond  each  day  grow  stronger. 
Mine  be  the  task,  with  all  my  might  and  main, 
To  shake  cobwebs  of  care  from  every  brain, 
Bid  Father  Time  his  wrinkled  front  undo, 
And  as  his  step  is  noiseless,  be  it  trackless  too, 
Nor  leave  his  footprint  rough,  on  beauty's  brow 
Or  manhood's  lofty  front;  so  cheer  up  now, 
Bring  in  the  horse  and  let  the  fun  begin, 
For  if  there's  fun  about,  be  sure  Dan's  in. 

After  the  performance  had  proceeded  a  most  sensational  inci 
dent  aroused  the  vast  audience  to  an  extraordinary  pitch  of  ex 
citement,  recalling  with  painful  vividness  the  persecutions  with 
which  Spaulding  and  Van  Orden  had  dogged  Rice's  steps,  bring 
ing  utter  ruin  not  only  to  his  professional  enterprises  but  to  his 
domestic  relations.  Hundreds  of  personal  friends  of  the  Colonel 
in  that  great  throng,  keenly  sensitive  of  all  the  details  of  the 
fierce  antagonism  and  revengeful  rivalry  of  his  former  partners, 
when  the  great  clown  reappeared  in  the  arena,  greeted  him  with 
a  veritable  cyclone  of  cheers,  alternated  with  derisive  cries,  in 
which  the  names  of  Spaulding  and  Van  Orden  figured  with  venge 
ful  emphasis,  "  Go  for  them,  Dan  ";  "  Pillory  the  pirates  ";  "  Let 
rip  on  the  blackmailers,"  and  scores  of  similar  questionable  com 
pliments  echoed  and  reechoed  through  the  vast  enclosure.  A 
thousand  throats  took  up  the  cry;  again  and  again  Colonel  Rice 
sought  to  stay  the  tide  with  courteous  but  deprecatory  gestures, 
but  the  throng  would  not  be  denied.  The  Prince  of  Jesters  was 
visibly  affected.  His  eyes  and  voice,  but  a  moment  before  beam 
ing  with  brilliant  bon  mots  and  jest-provoking  laughter,  grew 
dim  and  husky.  The  jester  and  the  man  fought  it  out  for  a  few 
minutes;  the  former  was  overwhelmed.  The  man  met  the  occa 
sion.  Choking  with  emotion  Colonel  Rice  made  the  following 
impassionate  address: 

Ladies  and  Gentlemen:  A  strange  fate  has  been  mine  since  I 
last  had  the  honor  of  appearing  before  you,  and  I  learn  that  those 
who  were  the  instruments  of  that  fate  have  been  most  busy  in 
attempts  to  poison  the  minds  of  the  citizens  of  this  place  against 
me,  otherwise  I  should  not  intrude  my  private  affairs  upon  your 
notice.  These  people  say  they  started  me  in  business.  So  they 
did,  and  to  me  most  disastrous  business,  for  I  was  called  by  them 


:__m^w+Jf^^^JAlTWAM-JJj&-tt^itMMU*UMto 


RICE     S 


DAN 


m 
til! 

SOUTHERN 


MUSEUM. 


JsEW   ORLEANS 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    HICE  127 

from  a  very  profitable  engagement  in  Baltimore  to  New  Orleans, 
to  play  for  them.  I  went;  when  I  got  there,  they  first  tried  to 
cajole  me  into  less  favorable  terms  than  they  had  offered  me,  but 
finally,  finding  that  I  was  more  important  to  them  than  they 
were  to  me,  they  came  to  terms,  by  which  their  shattered  fortune 
was  redeemed,  as  the  good  people  of  the  South  were  pleased  to 
favor  me  with  their  smiles,  and  money  flowed  to  the  coffers  of  the 
managers.  After  a  while  I  wanted  a  settlement,  as  they  owed 
me  considerable  money.  Then  it  was  they  started  me  in  busi 
ness,  for,  being  unable  to  pay  my  claim,  I  was  compelled  to  pur 
chase  one-half  of  their  old  stock  at  a  high  price,  and  thus  become 
a  circus  proprietor.  You  can  appreciate  the  kindness  of  such  a 
start.  Well,  we  made  money;  fortune  seemed  to  woo  us  in  every 
way,  and  I  thought  myself  rich,  but  I  was  deceived.  I  had  given 
Mr.  Van  Orden  most  unlimited  control  of  my  affairs,  and  I  too 
late  found  that  where  I  vainly  supposed  bills  had  been  paid,  notes 
for  payment, only  had  been  given,  as  I  had  authorized  him  to 
sign  my  name.  What  became  of  the  money  I  have  yet  to  learn. 
But  when  I  returned,  under  his  charge,  to  Xew  York,  I  found 
myself  head  over  ears  in  debt,  mostly  on  account  of  Van  Orden 
&  Spaulding.  One  curious  matter  will  here  present  itself  for 
your  consideration  as  involving  a  new  principle  in  arithmetic. 
Mr.  Van  Orden  was  my  agent,  and  received  for  his  services  $100 
per  month.  He  was  not  worth  $10  when  he  started  on  that  duty; 
lived  like  a  prince  while  so  engaged,  and  at  the  end  of  eighteen 
months  brought  me  in  debt  $3,000,  but  he  was  both  bookkeeper 
and  treasurer.  I  leave  you  to  ascertain  what  rule  would  work 
out  such  a  result. 

While  deluding  me  with  the  idea  that  I  was  rich,  or,  to  speak 
more  plainly,  while  he  was  perfecting  his  scheme  of  robbing, 
he  persuaded  me  to  let  him  be  my  agent  in  the  purchase  of  a 
farm  near  Albany,  a  lovely  place.  I  did  so,  and  gave  him  the 
money  to  make  the  first  payment,  for  I  had  been  permitted  to 
handle  a  little  of  my  own  money,  and  this  it  seems  he  wanted  to 
get.  The  farm  was  bought  and  my  family  moved  upon  it.  It 
was  furnished  and  stocked  at  my  expense,  and  the  circus  stock 
was  placed  there  to  winter,  while  it  was  agreed  that  I  should  go 
South  and  play  a  series  of  star  engagements,  such  as  have  always 
been  open  to  me.  Previous  to  going.  Van  Orden  suggested  that 
I  had  better  mortgage  the  personal  property  to  Mr.  Spaulding  for 
fear  some  other  creditors  should  take  advantage  of  my  absence 
and  it  should  be  sacrificed.  The  chief  of  these  creditors,  whom 
T  was  taught  to  regard  as  merciless,  was  my  friend  H.  M.  Whit- 
beck,  by  whose  kindly  aid  I  am  able  now  to  see  you  in  spite  of 
them. 

Having  foolishly  arranged  all  things  to  please  them,  I  started 


128  KEMIXISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

South,  and  had  been  absent  but  a  few  days  when  I  received  a  tele 
graphic  despatch  to  the  effect  that  Spaulding  had  foreclosed  the 
mortgage,  and  that  my  family  were  left  in  the  house  and  would 
be,  in  a  few  days,  without  the  most  common  necessaries  of  life. 
I  returned  in  haste,  and  by  my  presence  stopped  the  sale,  for, 
learning  that  I  was  there,  neither  of  the  gentlemen  dared  to  show 
his  face  at  a  sale  of  their  own  appointment.  Having,  as  I  sup 
posed,  put  a  quietus  to  this  proceeding,  again  I  started  to  fulfil  my 
engagements.  The  next  news  I  got  was  that  the  sale  had  been 
made;  that  Mr.  Van  Ordeii's  father  had  claimed  the  farm  as  his 
property;  that  my  family  had  been  turned  out  of  doors  in  mid 
winter,  and  that  by  a  trick  of  the  law  I  was  a  houseless  wanderer. 
I  hastened  to  Albany  and  there  learned  that  the  farm  had  never 
been  deeded  to  me,  but  Mr.  Van  Orden,  pocketing  my  money, 
had  caused  the  farm  to  be  deeded  to  his  own  father,  who  was 
then  in  possession.  The  offender  was  absent.  How  I  burned 
with  indignation,  I  leave  you  to  guess.  But  I  was  moneyless, 
and,  therefore,  in  law,  helpless.  I  knew  my  only  hope  was  to 
get  money,  therefore  I  took  my  wife's  jewels,  and  upon  them 
raised  money  to  start  another  circus.  But  I  learned  to  dread 
the  tricking  of  these  men  so  much  that  I  now  started  in  the  name 
of  F.  Eossten,  a  boy  whom  I  had  raised,  and  who,  I  thought,  was 
bound  to  me  by  so  many  ties  of  gratitude  that  I  was  safe  in  him. 
In  this  I  was  deceived — they  bought  him.  Stung  to  desperation, 
I  denounced  the  whole  party,  told  all  the  facts,  and  so  incensed 
the  community  against  them  that  they  were  scouted  from  society. 
They  dared  not  retort  one  word  while  in  a  place  where  both  were 
known.  But  waiting  until  I  reached  Eochester,  in  Xew  York, 
where  they  thought  1  was  not  known,  they  pounced  on  me  in  a 
suit  for  slander,  and  Spaulding,  by  virtue  of  a  bill  of  sale  from 
Eossten,  attached  my  property,  an  attachment  which  he  has  been 
pleased  to  release  and  quietly  pay  $1,000  rather  than  stand  a  trial. 
I  was  imprisoned,  and,  notwithstanding  bail  worth  fifty  times  the 
amount  required  by  the  court  was  offered,  I  could  not  get  a  re 
lease  for  one  week.  As  I  have  sued  the  sheriff  for  false  imprison 
ment,  this  will  all  come  out  in  good  time. 

Again  I  thought  myself  free  to  pursue  the  even  tenor  of  my 
way,  and  started  to  reach  the  sunny  South  where  I  knew  there 
were  warm  hearts  to  welcome  me.  Soon  after  my  arrival  in 
Pittsburg  I  learned  that  Van  Orden  was  there,  and  had  sworn  he 
would  destroy  me;  that  it  was  his  and  Spaulding's  determination 
to  do  so;  that  for  the  purpose  of  pursuing  me  they  had  started  a 
circus  company,  which  was  to  pursue  my  track,  and  they  were 
both  to  keep  up  a  fire  upon  me  until  I  was  finally  destroyed. 

I  forthwith  caused  a  writ  for  conspiracy  to  be  issued  against 
them,  and  they  are  now  under  bail  to  answer  to  that  charge. 


EEMIXISCEXCES    OF    DAN    RICE  129 

Learning  some  facts  relative  to  a  portion  of  money  surreptitiously 
obtained  and  disposed  of  by  Van  Orden,  1  had  him  also  arrested 
for  larceny,  and  to  both  of  these  he  must  answer. 

I  had  with  me  at  Pittsburg  a  performer  of  good  qualities  on 
horseback,  but  unprincipled.  This  man  he  hired  and  cajoled 
into  a  series  of  acts  which  have  caused  him  to  be  arrested  on  a 
criminal  charge  of  grave  character.  The  party  shot  ahead  of  me 
down  the  river,  and,  I  learn,  have  endeavored  to  spread  a  poison 
ous  influence  against  rne.  I  therefore  deem  myself  justifiable  in 
all  I  have  said.  Xot  that  I  ask  any  man's  sympathy,  or  court 
any  man's  favor.  If  the  public  come  to  see  me  and  my  perform 
ance,  I  will  try  to  satisfy  them,  and  as  far  as  this  quarrel  is  con 
cerned,  I  wish  your  motto  to  be  that  of  the  ancient  lawgiver,  fiat 
just  it  ia,  mat  cesium. 

In  the  same  year  the  Southern  Museum  was  projected  and 
organized  by  Colonel  Rice.  It  was  the  first  museum  of  any  con 
siderable  size  ever  opened  in  Xew  Orleans,  or,  in  fact,  in  the 
South,  and  it  was  a  matter  of  general  astonishment  that  such  a 
place,  combining  in  the  Xorthern  cities  so  many  resources  of 
amusement  and  instruction,  with  successful  returns  to  the  pro 
jectors,  had  not,  long  before,  become  one  of  the  settled  features 
of  Xew  Orleans.  Colonel  Rice  seized  the  first  opportunity  to 
gratify  the  public  desire  and  supply  the  vacuum,  and  by  his  enter 
prise  and  liberality,  the  Southern  Museum  was  opened  to  the 
public  for  the  first  time  on  the  25th  of  January,  1853.  An  estab 
lishment  of  this  kind,  it  is  well  known,  demands  years  of  labor, 
diligent  research,  extreme  care,  and  a  vast  expense  to  make  it 
complete,  or  even  to  bring  it  within  any  degree  of  completion. 

In  fact,  a  museum  never  is  complete  so  long  as  anything  of  a 
novel  description  can  be  added  to  its  stores;  but  its  organization 
of  objects  representing  the  multifarious  departments  of  human 
knowledge,  customs,  history,  etc.,  may  be  rendered  perfect 
though  on  a  skeleton  plan,  and  it  is  then  but  a  work  of  time  and 
industry  to  fit  up  the  ranks  of  the  battalions  of  curiosities. 

The  Southern  Museum  formed  the  nucleus,  and  its  active  and 
indefatigable  proprietor  constantly  added  to  its  resource.  His 
agents  were  everywhere  and  lost  no  opportunity  to  increase  the 
stores  of  the  museum.  Already  two  four-story,  large  brick  build 
ings  were  required  to  give  them  proper  display,  and  it  needed 
but  a  brief  inspection  to  convince  the  most  careless  onlooker 
that  the  hand  and  eye  of  one  thoroughly  cognizant  of  his  diffi 
cult  task  had  superintended  the  division  and  arrangement.  Xot 
only  dead,  but  living  objects  of  natural  history  were  there  in 
numbers,  and  the  student  of  all  the  "  ologies  "  did  not  fail  to 
find  plentiful  material  for  his  investigations. 
9 


130  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

The  museum  was  open  to  the  public  all  the  year  round  from 
9  A.M.  to  9  P.M.,  the  price  of  admission  being  twenty-five  cents, 
children,  fifteen  cents — cheap  enough  the  little  ones  say  to  see 
"  the  live  elephant  stuffed  with  straw/'  as  the  old  joke  has  it. 

The  following  is  a  brief  description  of  the  amphitheatre,  St. 
Charles  Street,  New  Orleans: 

This  large  and  elegant  building,  an  accurate  view  of  which  is 
given  by  the  engraver,  was  erected  expressly  for  Colonel  Rice, 
during  the  summer  and  fall  of  the  year  1853  by  Mr.  Lawrason, 
owner  of  the  property,  one  of  the  most  prominent  and  respected 
citizens  of  New  Orleans.  It  occupied  a  central  and  commanding 
position  in  that  busiest  and  gayest  of  the  Crescent  City's  many 
gay  and  busy  thoroughfares,  St.  Charles  Street,  and  its  original 
and  picturesque  exterior  immediately  arrested  the  attention  of 
every  one  who  passed.  Situated  near  the  Southern  Museum  and 
the  St.  Charles  Theatre,  it  presented  a  more  elegant  architecural 
appearance  than  either  of  those  noted  buildings,  and,  indeed,  it 
had  but  few  rivals,  in  this  respect,  in  the  entire  city.  The  amphi 
theatre  was  designed  for  both  equestrian  and  dramatic  perform 
ances  and  possessed  a  large  and  solidly  fitted  up  "  ring "  or 
"  circle  "  where  the  bold  rider  has  ample  room  for  his  feats  of 
graceful  or  daring  horsemanship,  and  where  the  jester  par  excel 
lence,  Dan  Rice  himself,  swayed  night  after  night,  in  his  motley 
garb,  crowds  of  delighted  listeners. 


CHAPTER   XVI. 

CORDS   OF   WOOD    AND 

RADO'S  LAVISH  GENEROSITY — MEETING  WITH  A  FAMOUS 
LAWYER — A  TIMELY  WARNING — FATE  OF  THE  INDIAN 
AGENT — ASSASSINATION  AND  ROBBERY — COL.  RICE'S  START 
LING  DISCOVERY — TRACES  FRUITS  OF  THE  CRIME — SILENCE 
AND  SAFETY. 

IN  Anril,  1853,  Mr.  Rice,  after  finishing  the  winter  season  in 
his' amphitheatre  in  New  Orleans,  left  the  city  to  meet  the 
appointments  laid  out  by  his  advance  agents  in  the  cities  and 
towns  along  the  Mississippi  River  and  its  tributaries.  In  each 
place  he  was  received  with  great  enthusiasm  by  the  public  and 
with  increased  admiration  and  sympathy,  as  they  had  been  kept 
informed  as  to  the  warfare  with  his  common  enemies,  Spaulding 
and  Van  Orden. 

Mr.  Rice  then  ascended  the  Arkansas  River  as  far  as  Fort 
Smith,  which  he  failed  to  do  in  the  spring  of  1852  on  account  of 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  131 

low  water.  Among  the  several  yards  at  which  he  took  wood 
was  one  several  miles  below  Little  Rock,  at  which  he  landed  and 
informed  the  proprietor,  "  I  want  fourteen  cords  of  wood.  What 
is  your  price  for  the  same,  sir?  "  The  individual  addressed  threw 
a  careless  glance  at  the  speaker  as  he  answered,  "  Two  dollars 
a  cord,  sah."  Mr.  Rice  knew  the  man  at  once,  but  gave  no  out 
ward  sign  of  recognition. 

In  the  meantime  the  boat  was  made  fast  to  the  bank,  and  the 
men  at  once  began  transferring  the  wood  to  the  boat,  while  the 
proprietor  went  on  board.  "  Are  you  the  captain  of  this  yah  boat, 
sah?  "  he  asked.  Mr.  Rice  replied,  "  Yes,  sir;  I  am  the  captain  of 
this  boat."  "All  right,  sah,"  he  said;  "have  a  drink,  sah?" 
"  No,  sir;  have  a  drink  with  me,  sir,"  said  Mr.  Rice,  who,  having 
discovered  that  the  man  displayed  two  great  horse  pistols  in  his 
overcoat  pockets,  and  knowing  that  he  would  possibly  stop  there 
again  on  his  return  trip,  felt  that  it  would  be  policy  to  treat 
the  man  with  courtesy  and  great  liberality.  They  then  proceeded 
to  the  bar.  They  smoked  their  cigars  while  the  men  were  load- 
ing  the  boat  and  indulged  in  a  general  conversation.  Mr.  Rice 
considered  the  situation  and  asked  his  visitor  to  take  another 
drink,  which  he  did,  and  Mr.  Rice  enjoyed  another  cigar,  while 
his  guest  smoked  his  pipe,  and,  becoming  quite  social,  he  turned  to 
the  captain  and  asked,  "  What  is  yo'  business,  sah  ?  "  "  I'm  a  circus 
man,  sir,"  said  Mr.  Rice,  "  and  have  my  company  and  horses  all 
on  this  boat."  "Well,  what  circus  is  it,  sah?"  the  man  asked. 
"  Dan  Rice's  Circus,"  was  the  answer.  "  By  -  — ,  sah!  I've  seen 
Dan  Rice's  Circus  in  New  Orleans.  He  beats  all  the  circus 
clowns  I  ever  seen!  Where  is  Dan?"  he  continued.  "Well, 
I'm  Dan  Rice,"  was  the  reply.  "  I'm  proprietor  of  this  circus, 
and  captain  and  owner  of  this  steamboat,  sir."  He  shook  Mr. 
Rice's  hand  with  much  warmth  and  said,  "  Let's  take  another 
drink."  Which  expression  was  cut  short  as  the  last  cord  of  wood 
was  being  put  on  board  and  the  ready  bell  had  rung.  Said  Mr. 
Rice,  "  My  friend,  go  to  the  office  and  get  your  money,  and  sign 
a  receipt."  Seeing  the  money  lying  on  the  desk  he  signed  the 
receipt  and  the  clerk  handed  him  the  amount,  which  he  counted 
and  said,  "  You  have  paid  me,  sah,  for  fourteen  cords  of  wood, 
and  I  want  pay  for  twenty,  sah."  Mr.  Rice  said,  "  I  think  you  are 
mistaken."  "No,  sah!  I  put  twenty  cords  of  wood  on  the  bank, 
sah!  "  At  the  same  time  his  hand  fell  on  his  pocket.  Mr.  Rice 
then  said,  "  We'll  have  no  more  controversy  about  this  matter, 
sir,"  and  turning  to  the  clerk,  said,  "  Pay  this  gentleman 
twelve  dollars  more  and  take  a  receipt  for  same."  To  Mr.  Rice's 
surprise,  when  the  man  came  out  of  the  office,  he  said,  "  Captain, 
call  all  your  men  up  to  this  bar,  pah:  while  I  call  my  niggers, 
sah! "  and  he  kept  drinking  with  them.  Mr.  Rice  called  all  the 


132  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    BICE 

service  of  the  boat:  the  pilot,  engineers,  firemen.,  deck-hands, 
grooms,  canvasmen,  and,  finally,  the  performers,  and  this  curious 
individual  then  insisted  upon  champagne  for  the  ladies.  His 
bill  of  fifty  dollars  he  readily  paid  without  offering  one  word  of 
remonstrance.  The  bell  now  rang  for  starting.  The  master 
with  his  slaves  got  ashore,  and,  being  exceedingly  hilarious,  they 
gave  three  cheers  for  the  circus.  The  master  shouted,  "  Captain 
Dan,  stop  and  see  me  on  your  way  down  the  river,  and  don't 
forget  it! "  As  the  boat  steamed  away  up  the  river,  Mr.  Rice's 
mind  was  filled  with  anxious,  gloomy  thoughts  of  the  dark,  hor 
rible  deeds  committed  by  this  man,  who  was  the  notorious  Tom 
May,  and  especially  as  to  the  fate  of  the  Indian  agent  of  General 
Ross. 

Landing  at  Little  Rock  Sunday  evening,  May  1,  1853,  he  was 
advertised  to  perform  for  one  week.  Having  enjoyed  the  journey 
up  the  river  to  the  fullest  extent,  and  participating  in  the  pleas 
ures  of  never-ending  changes  that  naturally  attend  such  a  trip, 
Mr.  Rice  was  therefore  in  excellent  condition,  and  his  recupera 
tive  powers  perfect.  Before  leaving  New  Orleans  he  had  received 
several  letters  of  introduction  to  prominent  people  in  various  parts 
of  the  country  through  which  he  had  to  pass,  and  among  them 
was  one  from  Mayor  Grossman,  of  the  City  of  New  Orleans,  to  the 
Hon.  Albert  Pike,  the  distinguished  lawyer  of  Little  Rock,  which 
letter  Mr.  Rice  presented,  and  was  received  with  due  recognition 
and  respect,  and  was  introduced  to  some  of  the  most  prominent 
citizens  of  the  capital  city,  who  called  on  Albert  Pike  at  his  big 
log-cabin  home  to  be  presented  to  the  famous  clown,  who  was 
Mr.  Pike's  guest  during  his  week's  stay.  The  friendship  formed 
at  that  time  continued  until  the  death  of  Mr.  Pike,  that  grand 
specimen  of  Dame  Nature's  choice  labors.  During  the  week,  in 
the  social  intercourse  with  his  distinguished  host,  Mr.  Rice 
thought  he  had  discovered  what  had  become  of  General  Ross' 
Indian  agent.  After  telling  Mr.  Pike  of  his  experience  at  a  wood- 
yard  several  miles  below  the  city,  that  gentleman  remarked, 
"  Friend  Rice,  I  sold  to  that  man  a  thousand  acres  of  timber  land 
where  that  woodyard  stands,  and  it  seems  a  sacrilege  almost  to 
see  those  great,  mammoth  trees  of  walnut,  white  oak,  cherry,  and 
other  valuable  woods  cut  down  to  be  burned  on  the  steamboats." 
Mr.  Rice  remarked,  "  You  must  have  got  a  good  price  for  it  ?  " 
"  Well,  yes,'5  was  the  answer.  "  I  got  five  dollars  per  acre  for  it." 
"  How  long  is  it,  Mr.  Pike,  since  you  sold  this  land?  "  He  re 
plied,  "  About  nine  months  ago."  Mr.  Rice  said,  "  Will  you  ex 
cuse  me,  sir,  for  being  so  inquisitive,  but  what  kind  of  money 
was  it  you  received?  "  He  replied,  "  In  gold  and  bank  bills  on 
the  Canal  Bank  of  New  Orleans."  Mr.  Rice  remarked,  "  That 
settles  it!  Many  thanks,  Mr.  Pike;  I  think  I  now  know  the  fate 


REMINISCENCES    OF    CAN    RICH  loo 

of  General  Ross'  Indian  agent!  "  That  gentleman  showed  his 
surprise  when  he  asked,  "  Why,  Friend  Rice,  do  you  know  this 
man  who  is  proprietor  of  the  woodyard?  "  "  Yes,  sir,  I  do/'  was 
the  answer,  *'  and  his  brother  Jim,  also! "  Mr.  Pike  asked 
quickly,  "  Who  are  they? "  Mr  Rice  answered,  "  They  were 
formerly  members  of  Murrell's  gang  of  land  pirates."  Then  said 
Mr.  Pike,  "  My  young  friend,  1  know  them  also,  but  I  keep  my 
own  counsel,  and  I  would  advise  you  to  do  the  same,  if  you  ever 
expect  to  visit  this  country  again,  for  they  are  very  numerous 
among  us,  and  the  slightest  intimation  of  an  expose  of  any  of 
them  would  endanger  your  life.  Many  of  them  occupy  promi 
nent  positions  in  the  mercantile,  financial,  and  stock-raising  busi 
ness,  and  are  highly  respected;  are  useful  citizens  and  have  ex 
cellent  families."  After  this  expression  from  Mr.  Pike  in  trying 
to  mitigate  the  deed  of  outlawry  among  the  better  representa 
tives  of  the  "  Murrell  gang,"  Mr.  Rice  thanked  him  for  his  advice 
and  assured  him  that  he  would  govern  himself  accordingly. 

Mr.  Rice  soon  after  continued  his  journey  up  the  Arkansas 
River  as  far  as  Fort  Smith,  taking  in  the  alternate  towns  on 
either  side  and  remaining  one  day  at  Fort  Smith.  He  located 
his  tent  adjoining  the  United  States  District  Court  in  the  Indian 
Territory.  Great  crowds  of  people  had  assembled  from  all  parts 
of  the  country  to  witness  the  execution  of  two  Indians  condemned 
for  murder,  and  Mr.  Rice  also  had  the  melancholy  pleasure  of 
seeing  them  make  their  exit  to  the  happy  hunting  grounds. 
Immediately  after  the  execution  the  band  began  playing,  the 
doors  were  opened,  and,  in  a  short  time,  the  canvas  was  filled 
with  a  large  audience,  consisting  of  about  one  thousand  white 
people,  one  thousand  Indians,  and  five  hundred  slaves,  and  the 
tickets  sold  for  one  dollar  singly. 

Mr.  Rice  had  the  pleasure  of  meeting  the  distinguished  Dr. 
Boniface  of  the  United  States  Army,  whose  acquaintance  he  had 
formed  at  Pittsburg  at  the  Allegheny  Arsenal  during  his  boy 
hood  days,  when  he  drove  the  carriage  for  Captain  Harding.  Mr. 
Rice  exhibited  at  night  to  an  audience  composed  mostly  of  the 
citizens,  who  turned  out  en  masse,  and  the  artists  were  the  re 
cipients  of  unbounded  applause,  and  the  lady  performers  received 
many  bouquets.  It  was  the  most  appreciative  audience  Mr.  Rice 
had  met  on  the  river  since  he  left  Little  Rock.  The  next  morn 
ing  he  left  Fort  Smith  to  begin  the  trip  down  the  river,  and,  stop 
ping  at  Van  Buren,  gave  two  performances  to  a  large  concourse 
of  people.  He  availed  himself  of  the  pleasure  of  visiting  the 
landlord  with  whom  he  stopped  the  year  previous,  on  the  occasion 
when  he  was  acting  as  his  own  agent  in  advertising  the  country. 
He  found  an  opportunity  of  making  an  inquiry  in  regard  to  Gen 
eral  Ross'  Indian  agent,  and  was  told  that  he  had  not  been  seen 


134:  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

or  heard  of  since  he  left  with  the  circus  agent,  having  arranged 
to  ride  with  him  to  Batesville.  Mr.  Rice  then  inquired  of  the 
landlord  if  he  knew  Tom  May,  and  was  told  that  he  knew  him 
well,  but  had  not  seen  him  for  over  a  year,  as  he  had  left  the 
country,  having  lost  his  wife,  and  had  located  several  miles  below 
Little  Rock  and  had  started  a  woodyard  there.  Having  secured 
the  required  information,  the  landlord  was  then  invited  to  come 
to  the  circus  and  see  Dan  Rice  in  his  professional  attire,  and  the 
gentleman  was  greatly  surprised  to  recognize  in  the  clown  the 
circus  agent  who  was  his  transient  guest  the  year  previous,  and 
he  was  very  much  elated  to  know  that  the  famous  clown  had  been 
his  guest.  After  the  entertainment  the  landlord  was  serenaded 
by  the  circus  band  and  was  very  lavish  in  his  hospitality,  as  were 
all  the  people  of  that  country  in  those  early  days. 

Mr.  Rice  left  the  next  morning  to  take  in  the  alternate  towns 
on  the  downward  trip,  and  arrived  at  Little  Rock  at  the  end  of 
a  week,  remaining  there  two  days,  giving  four  performances. 
The  entire  gross  receipts  of  the  second  afternoon  performance 
were  given  to  benefit  the  "  Deaf  and  Dumb  Asylum  "  at  the 
suggestion  of  Albert  Pike,  who  was  a  philanthropist  where  be 
nevolent  institutions  were  concerned.  The  gift  to  the  institution 
exceeded  a  thousand  dollars  and  was  gratefully  recognized  by  the 
officials  of  the  city,  represented  by  Mr.  Pike,  who  spoke  in  appro 
priate  words  of  acknowledgment. 

Mr.  Rice  was  delightfully  entertained  the  following  day,  Sun 
day,  by  the  prominent  people  of  the  city,  and  the  pleasant  asso 
ciations  will  always  live  in  memory.  The  stay  over  in  Little 
Rock  also  gave  the  performers  a  chance  to  attend  religious  wor 
ship,  and,  as  several  members  of  the  troupe  were  church-going 
people,  it  proved  a  pleasant  source  of  gratification  to  their  prin 
ciples  of  devotion.  At  four  o'clock  in  the  evening,  the  circus 
moved  off  down  the  river  after  firing  a  salute  with  the  boat's 
cannon,  amid  the  cheers  of  the  throng  assembled  on  the  levee, 
while  the  band  played  its  sweetest  airs.  Arriving  just  above  the 
four-mile  bar,  the  boat  was  tied  up  for  the  night  as  it  was  hazard 
ous  to  continue  the  journey  in  darkness,  as  the  river  was  full  of 
snags. 

Mr.  Rice  hailed  the  captain  of  a  passing  steamer  and  asked  him 
if  there  was  any  wood  at  May's  woodyard.  He  replied,  "  No.  I 
took  all  there  was  on  the  bank;  but  there  is  plenty  of  it  cut  back 
in  the  timber.  I  would  advise  you,  Captain  Dan,  to  send  May 
word  to  have  it  on  the  bank,  so  that  you  can  get  it  early  in  the 
morning."  Remembering  the  pressing  invitation  that  he  had  re 
ceived  on  the  upward  trip  to  visit  May  again,  when  he  descended, 
Mr.  Rice  ordered  a  yawl  and  attendants  and  concluded  to  attend 
to  the  matter  in  person,  and  prepared  to  arm  himself  accordingly. 


KICK  S   COAT    OF    AKMS 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  135 

His  weapons  of  defence  consisted  of  a  gallon  of  liquor  known  as 
"  nigger  "  whiskey,  a  quantity  of  tobacco,  and  some  cigars.  These 
articles  were  indispensable  adjuncts  to  the  consummation  of  a 
scheme  that  Mr.  Eice  had  resolved  to  execute  in  regard  to  the 
outlaw  who  had  swindled  him  out  of  six  cords  of  wood  that  he 
never  received,  besides  exposing  this  robber  and  murderer  before 
his  own  slaves  and  the  entire  company.  In  half  an  hour  Mr.  Rice 
stood  in  Tom  May's  presence  with  his  arms  filled  with  ammuni 
tion,  was  greeted  with  a  hearty  welcome,  and  hospitably  invited 
to  take  supper,  that  consisted  of  the  inevitable  "  hog-meat "  and 
"  corn-dodgers  "  that  had  just  been  prepared.  Having  accepted 
May's  invitation  to  remain  during  the  night,  Mr.  Rice  made 
known  his  errand — that  of  procuring  twenty  cords  of  wood.  The 
negroes  were  roused  from  their  quarters  and  at  once  proceeded  to 
cart  the  wood  to  the  river  bank  while  the  proprietor  made  inroads 
upon  the  whiskey  and  tobacco,  and  Mr.  Rice  smoked  his  cigar. 
A  peculiar  rigid  custom  prevailed  in  those  early  days  among  the 
banditti,  as  well  as  among  the  best  of  the  better  classes,  in 
requiring  a  guest  to  drink  even  though  he  should  feel  inclined  to 
refuse.  It  was  in  this  situation  that  Mr.  Rice  found  himself;  but 
being  equal  to  any  emergency,  he  pretended  to  indulge  from  his 
leaden  cup,  drinking  a  health  each  time  to  the  worthy  proprietor 
of  the  woodyard,  and  thus  satisfied  his  host  that  he  had  partaken 
equally  with  him.  In  the  meantime  he  regaled  the  outlaw  with 
story  and  song,  allowing  the  whiskey  to  furnish  the  finale,  which 
came  sooner  than  was  expected,  for  May  was  so  helplessly  over 
come  that  his  body-servant  was  obliged  to  put  him  to  bed,  after 
which  service  he  retired  to  his  quarters,  and  Mr.  Rice  was  left 
alone  with  the  branded  outlaw,  who  soon  began  to  indulge  in 
what  subsequently  proved  to  be  an  habitual  performance  of  the 
nasal  organs,  which  Mr.  Rice  describes,  in  his  inimitable  way,  as, 
"  A  whirlwind  of  cadences  as  furious  as  the  attempts  of  an  ama 
teur  brass  band."  Mr.  Rice,  in  order  to  perfect  the  projects  of 
his  scheme,  proceeded  to  disarm  his  host  by  securing  his  pistols, 
rifle,  and  bowie-knife,  the  only  weapons  he  could  discover  in  the 
cabin,  and  concealed  them,  unobserved,  under  the  bank  of  the 
river.  On  returning  to  the  cabin  he  found  his  host  still  indulg 
ing  in  his  involuntary  and  furious  pastime,  and  taking  a  candle 
from  the  table,  looked  long  and  searchingly  into  Tom  May's 
countenance  as  he  lay  in  his  unconsciousness.  He  read  in  the 
yielding  features  that  he  was  not  long  for  this  world  and  would 
soon  pass  before  a  tribunal  whose  legal  chains  would  bind  him 
round  about  with  bands  like  steel,  from  which  he  could  not 
escape  on  account  of  his  cruel  deeds.  The  early  dawn  was  now 
approaching  and  the  steamboat  blew  her  whistle  for  landing,  so 
Mr.  Rice  left  the  cabin  and  repaired  to  the  river  bank  where  the 


130  BEMIXISCEtfCES    OF    DAK    RICE 

slaves  with  their  ox  teams  were  hauling  and  cording  the  wood. 
The  boat  "  rounded  to"  and.,  coming  to  the  woodyard,  the  stag 
ing  was  run  out,  and  the  working  brigade  commenced  rapidly 
"  toting  "  the  wood  aboard.  Tom  May's  body-servant  came  to 
Mr.  Kice  as  he  was  watching  the  proceedings  and  asked  him  if 
he  should  wake  up  his  master.  Mr.  Rice  replied,  "  Yes,  wake 
him  up;  put  him  in  good  shape  and  tell  him  I've  invited  him  to 
come  down  to  the  boat  and  take  breakfast  with  me."  In  half  an 
hour  he  made  his  appearance  at  the  cabin  door,  and  roughly  ac 
cused  his  negroes  with  stealing  his  "  shooting-irons/'  which  they 
all  denied  most  emphatically,  saying,  "  We  all  clar  to  God,  Mars' 
Tom,  we  hain't  bin  nigh  dat  yah  cabin,  fer  sence  yer  called  us 
we's  bin  totin'  wood  all  night."  Finding  they  were  all  combined 
in  declaring  their  innocence  he  made  no  more  comments  and  al 
lowed  his  body-servant  to  take  him  on  Mr.  Rice's  boat,  and  after 
indulging  in  a  couple  of  "  whiskey  cocktails  "  to  set  him  straight, 
he  went  with  Mr.  Rice  to  the  boiler  deck  and  smoked  while  wait 
ing  for  breakfast.  The  following  conversation  took  place  as  they 
enjoyed  the  morning  air,  and  May  asked,  "  Captain  Dan,  how  did 
you  sleep  last  night?"  "I  didn't  sleep  at  all,  sir!"  "Why, 
sah?  "  asked  May.  "  Because  you  gave  me  such  a  musical  enter 
tainment,"  said  Mr.  Rice,  "  that  I  laid  awake  to  listen  to  it,  sir." 
"  What  do  you  mean,  sah?  "  "  Why,  you  snored  so  loud  that  an 
elephant  couldn't  sleep  in  your  presence,"  said  Mr.  Rice.  "  You 
tell  me,  sah,  that  I  snore,  sah?"  asked  May.  "  Yes,  sir! "  an 
swered  Mr.  Rice,  being  emboldened  to  speak  out  plainly,  as  May 
was  unarmed,  and,  also  knowing  that  most  men  are  sensitive  on 
that  point,  he  was  not  safe  in  declaring  himself.  At  this  point 
of  the  proceedings,  May  arose,  and  straightening  his  huge  frame 
of  six  feet  to  its  full  height,  assumed  a  threatening  attitude.  Mr. 
Rice  simultaneously  arose  also,  expecting  an  attack  from  the 
outlaw,  when  May  said,  "  Capt.  Dan  Rice,  do  you  tell  me  that 
I  snore,  sah?"  "Yes,  sir,"  answered  Mr.  Rice  emphatically. 
"  Well,  sah,"  said  May,  "  understand  distinctly,  sah,  that  I  am  the 
boss  snorer  of  Arkansas!  "  and  he  broke  into  a  laugh  as  he  spoke 
these  words.  The  company  that  had  by  this  time  assembled  in 
dulged  heartily  in  its  appreciation  of  the  curious  expression  of  the 
outlaw  when  they  interpreted  his  joke  and  Mr.  Rice  also  caught 
the  infection,  and  Tom  May's  joke  became  proverbial.  The  bell 
now  rang  for  breakfast,  after  which  the  mate  of  the  boat  came  to 
Mr.  Rice  and  informed  him  that  the  wood  was  all  on  board  and 
the  steam  up  ready  for  the  start.  Tom  May  was  hurried  to  the 
office  to  get  his  money,  and  signed  the  receipt  for  forty  dollars, 
his  signature  being  almost  unintelligible  as  he  was  still  nervous 
from  the  debauch  of  the  night  before.  As  Mr.  Rice  handed  him 
the  money  he  said,  "  Tom,  it's  a  poor  rule  that  won't  work  both 


HEMIXISCEXCES    OF    DAN    RICE  137 

ways.  When  I  took  wood  from  you  on  iny  up  trip,  you  bulldozed 
me  out  of  twelve  dollars  for  six  cords  of  wood  that  I  never  re 
ceived."  Pressing  the  money  into  Tom's  hand,  he  continued, 
'k  There's  your  thirty-four  dollars,  all  you're  entitled  to.  Now, 
get  ashore!  "  Calling  the  body-servant,  he  ordered  him  to  take 
his  master  on  shore.  All  the  troupe  were  assembled  on  the 
guards  and  deck  of  the  boat  to  hear  the  announcement  that  Mr. 
Rice  had  to  make.  As  May  stood  at  the  end  of  the  plank  par 
tially  bewildered  by  the  turn  of  the  tide  of  affairs,  and  trying  to 
collect  his  scattered  thoughts  and  recover  his  failing  powers,  al 
though  he  knew  he  was  unarmed,  Mr.  Rice  turned  to  the  company 
and,  calling  their  attention,  said,  "  This  is  Tom  May,  an  outlaw, 
once  a  member  of  the  notorious  Murrell  gang  of  land  pirates.  I 
stayed  at  his  home  one  night  about  a  year  ago  and  he  hasn't  recog 
nized  me.  I  had  accompanying  me  a  gentleman  who  was  Gen 
eral  Ross'  Indian  agent,  and  on  his  way  to  Nashville  to  procure 
supplies  for  the  Cherokee  reservation.  He  concluded  to  return 
to  Van  Buren,  while  I  proceeded  on  to  Batesville.  He  has  never 
been  seen  or  heard  of  since,  but  that  man,  Tom  May,  knows  what 
became  of  him,  and  so  do  I! "  The  wretched  man  on  the  river 
bank  grew  ashen  with  fury  as  the  accusing  words  fell  upon  his 
ear  and  he  glared  at  Mr.  Rice,  who  continued,  "  This  agent  had 
ten  thousand  dollars  in  gold  and  bank  bills  on  the  Canal  Bank  of 
New  Orleans  secured  in  a  belt  around  his  waist,  and  that  man 
Tom  May  knew  it.  He  murdered  and  robbed  him!  "  May  then 
grew  desperate  and  shouted  to  his  servant,  "  Go  get  my  rifle!  " 
and  the  rest  of  the  slaves  stood  aghast,  stupefied  by  this  terrible 
declaration.  The  servant  returned  without  the  rifle,  which  Mr. 
Rice  had  previously  hidden  the  night  before,  apprehending  some 
difficulty  with  the  desperado,  and  May's  face  grew  dark  with  rage 
and  his  body  quivered  with  pent-up  execrations  that  never  found 
voice  in  words.  And  Mr.  Rice  continued,  "  With  part  of  that 
money  he  purchased  this  land  of  Gen.  Albert  Pike,  of  Little  Rock. 
Now,  Tom  May,  I  advise  you  to  make  peace  with  your  God,  for 
your  days  are  numbered,  and  if  you  do  not  die  a  natural  death, 
and  if  I  live  to  get  to  Batesville,  you  will  die  with  a  rope  around 
your  neck."  The  wretched  being  never  uttered  a  word,  but 
turned  away  and  slowly  made  his  way  back  to  his  cabin,  his  once 
erect  form  now  bending  with  his  load  of  gui-lt.  The  boat  moved 
from  the  landing-place  and  proceeded  on  her  journey  while  the 
last  act  of  a  cruel  tragedy  was  being  performed  in  the  miserable 
home  of  the  notorious  Tom  May.  The  end  came  quickly,  for, 
strange  to  tell,  when  Captain  Creighton  of  the  regular  steamer 
of  the  Memphis  line  overtook  Mr.  Rice  at  Pine  Bluff  the  next 
day,  he  informed  him  that  Tom  May,  at  the  woodyard,  had  died 
during  the  night  while  in  delirium  tremens.  Thus  justice  doth 


138  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

work  out  her  deeds  in  her  peculiar  way.  Mr.  Rice  says  he  will 
ever  regret  leaving  the  remainder  of  that  gallon  of  whiskey  witli 
May,  for  it  would  have  given  him  great  satisfaction  to  have  been 
instrumental  in  hanging  the  first  man  in  Arkansas  for  murder. 


CHAPTER    XVII: 

MEETING  WITH  JEFFERSON  DAVIS — A  CIRCUS  ~  CRCESUS — 
SHADOWS  OF  COMING  EVENTS — CALM  BEFORE  THE  STORM- 
DOUGLAS  AND  LEE — AN  INTERESTING  INTERVIEW — "  SEE 
ING  THE  ELEPHANT" — A  LUDICROUS  "ELUCIDATION" 
RING  AND  ROSTRUM — PATRIOTISM  AND  PRICE — SENATOR 
CAMERON'S  OMINOUS  ORDER — RICE  ON  THE  TRACK- 
PRESIDENT  LINCOLN'S  PRACTICAL  JOKE. 

rTIHE  season  of  1854  proved  to  be  the  most  successful  one  in 
JL  Colonel  Rice's  professional  career.  It  was  an  unbroken 
series  of  triumphs,  almost  without  parallel  in  the  circus  world  of 
those  days,  unmarred  as  it  was  throughout  by  accidents  or  mis 
adventures  so  inseparable  from  the  rush  and  hustle,  risks  and 
trials  of  the  transportation  of  circus  troupes  while  on  the  road. 

The  season  closed  with  a  net  profit  of  over  $100,000 — a  well- 
nigh  unprecedented  gain  in  those  days. 

In  the  spring  Colonel  Rice  bade  farewell  to  New  Orleans,  dis 
posing  of  his  interest  in  the  famous  amphitheatre  and  museum, 
and  removed  his  entire  circus  outfit  to  Schenectady,  N".  Y.,  where 
he  wintered  with  his  family  at  the  Gibbons  Hotel. 

In  the  fall  of  that  year  he  made  a  tour  of  the  Southwestern 
States.  Whilst  exhibiting  at  Calhoun,  Pittsboro  County,  Miss., 
Colonel  Rice  received  his  first  introduction  to  Jefferson  Davis. 
It  was  brought  about  at  a  banquet  given  in  honor  of  the  stalwart 
Secessionist.  The  Colonel  delivered  the  address  of  welcome  to 
the  illustrious  guest.  Davis,  at  that  time,  was  a  popular  idol. 
Mr.  Rice  describes  him  as  a  man  of  most  marvellous  personal 
magnetism,  modest  of  bearing,  reserved  yet  not  secretive — all  in 
all,  a  man  of  most  engaging  personality  and  yet  possessed  of  the 
most  radical  and  positive  traits.  An  obstinate  extremist  in  his 
views  of  public  men  and  measures,  but  most  courteous,  hospitable, 
and  conservative  in  his  social  relations.  "  Davis,"  adds  Uncle 
Dan,  "  was  an  immortal  lover  and  an  eternal  hater." 

It  was  customary  in  those  ante-bellum  days  for  Northern  and 
Southern  friends  at  parting  to  exchange  gifts — swap  souvenirs 
as  it  were.  Colonel  Rice  presented  the  great  agitator  with  a  sil- 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  139 

ver-mounted  rabbit's  foot,  expressing  the  hope  that  the  talismanic 
traditions  associated  with  the  souvenir  would  not  fail  of  ful 
filment.  In  return  he  received  a  rare  Mexican  silver  coin, 
which  General  Davis  had  picked  up  on  the  battlefield  of  Cha- 
pultapec. 

During  the  subsequent  seasons  from  1855  to  1859, and  until  the 
outbreak  of  the  Civil  War,  Colonel  Rice  "  swung  around  the 
circle/'  as  he  puts  it,  from  Dan  to  Beersheba,  from  himself,  as  it 
were,  alternately  to  the  remotest  points  of  the  circus  compass; 
in  truth  from  the  wit  eat  lands  of  the  frigid  North  to  the  Rice 
fields  of  the  Sunny  South.  A  sort  of  "  Cereal  Circle,"  adds 
Uncle  Dan.  He  had  now  reached  the  topmost  crescent  of  the 
wave  of  prosperity. 

Professional  triumphs  and  honors  crowded  thick  and  fast  upon 
him,  bringing  pecuniary  profits  to  his  coffers,  with  such  fabulous 
rapidity,  that  the  late  Governor  Curtin  of  Pennsylvania  was  con 
strained  at  a  banquet  given  in  his  honor  to  characterize  the 
Prince  of  Jesters  as  the  Croesus  of  the  Circus.  The  spring  of 
1860  found  the  Mammoth  Show  at  the  National  Capital. 

At  Fairfax  Court  House  was  given  the  initial  performance  of  a 
tour  through  Virginia  and  other  Southern  States,  which  was 
destined  to  be  the  last  appearance  of  Colonel  Rice  in  the  Southern 
Circuit  for  many  years. 

Coming  events  began  to  cast  their  shadows  before.  The  cords 
of  the  national  heart,  harassed  with  maddening  doubts  and 
equally  fatuous  hopes,  were  even  then  straining  at  the  leash  of 
reason,  swayed  as  they  were  by  the  passion  of  sectional  prejudice 
and  political  bigotry. 

The  terrible  tension  upon  the  popular  patience  and  patriotic 
pride  of  all  lovers  of  the  Union,  the  intemperate  and  impulsive 
utterances  of  Southern  sympathizers  and  Northern  fanatics,  had 
already  begun  to  tell  on  every  side.  Washington  society  was  a 
smouldering  volcano.  The  suspense  was  oppressive,  the  ominous 
calm  before  the  storm.  Men  in  every  station  of  life,  political 
giants,  financial  kings,  all  men,  Southern  and  Northern  alike, 
felt  the  stifling  dread  of  impending  danger. 

Bosom  friends  looked  askance,  or  greeted  each  other  in  a 
perfunctory  way.  Kinsmen  felt  the  most  sacred  ties  gradually 
loosen  and  unravel  under  the  pitiable  strain. 

Tn  the  light  of  after  years,  when  the  "  storm  had  spent  itself  " 
and  that  "  heavenly  calm  like  a  herald  of  hell "  was  dispelled— 
little  wonder  that  the  reader  may  find  food  for  gratifying  thought 
in  the  following  incidents  which  occurred  in  those  feverish  days 
at  the  National  Capital. 

Colonel  Rice,  on  his  way  to  his  apartments  one  early  morning 
in  the  spring  of  1860,  met  two  men,  one  of  whom  subsequently 


140  KEMINISCENCES    OE    DAN    BICE 

became  a  Northern  candidate  for  the  Presidency  and  the  other 
Commander-in-Chief  of  the  Confederate  Army — Stephen  A. 
Douglas  and  Eobert  E.  Lee. 

A  friendship  of  many  years'  standing  existed  between  Douglas, 
Lee,  and  Eice.  The  former,  after  his  "  early  bird  "  appearance 
had  been  explained,  by  the  fact  that  he  had  passed  a  sleepless 
night,  suddenly  turned  to  Eice  and  said,  "  I  left  my  home  to 
shake  off  a  feeling  of  utter  loneliness  that  oppressed  me,  hoping 
to  find  in  the  bustle  of  the  streets  some  relief,  some  rest,  but  I 
feel  more  isolated  here  somehow.  A  strange  sense  of  mystery 
seems  to  envelop  everything — men,  all  things — like  the  '  heav 
enly  calm  half  heralding  a  veritable  hell ';  I  wish  it  wrere  over 
with,  the  dread  of  the  result,  but  what  it  may  be  is  as  nothing  to 
the  agony  of  the  doubt."  Pausing  a  moment  Colonel  Eice  queried 
"  Do  you  refer  to  the  outcome,  Mr.  Douglas?  "  "  No,  no,"  thun 
dered  Douglas,  "  not  the  end  but  the  beginning,  when  and  how 
will  the  first  blow  be  struck  ?  " 

At  that  moment  Col.  Eobert  E.  Lee  approached  from  an  oppo 
site  direction.  The  bearing  of  the  gallant  Lee  was  in  marked 
contrast  with  the  too  apparent  moodiness  of  the  "  little  giant," 
marked  as  it  was  by  that  old-school  heartiness  of  greeting  and  the 
inimitable  charm  of  unaffected  camaraderie  with  which  he,  after 
inquiring  about  Mr.  Douglas7  health,  rallied  him  concerning  his 
failure  to  be  present  at  the  circus,  which  Colonel  Lee  had  at 
tended  the  previous  night. 

The  trio  separated,  Douglas  continuing  down  Pennsylvania 
Avenue  with  his  chin  on  his  breast  and  his  hands  dug  deep  in 
his  trousers  pockets,  Colonels  Lee  and  Eice  meanwhile  proceed 
ing  in  an  opposite  direction.  When  the  latter  had  informed 
Colonel  Lee  of  what  Mr.  Douglas  had  said,  he  smilingly  re 
marked  that  the  beginning  concerned  him  but  little;  the  where 
and  when  the  trouble  would  be  precipitated  affected  his  rest  far 
less  than  when  and  how  the  termination  would  be  reached;  the 
length,  the  briefness  of  it,  these  were  the  perplexing  doubts  that 
haunted  him.  "But,"  he  added,  as  he  bade  Colonel  Eice  good- 
by,  "  Uncle  Dan,  we  are  friends  to-day  despite  the  insecurity  and 
uncertainty  of  matters  political,  let  us  hope  to  live — Douglas, 
you,  and  I — to  renew  again  under  one  flag,  when  the  storm  has 
spent  itself,  the  friendship  that  exists  to-day." 

Shortly  after  leaving  Washington  with  his  company,  Colonel 
Eice  disposed  of  his  interest  in  the  Great  Show  without,  however, 
severing  his  connection  with  it. 

It  was  about  the  time  he  issued  a  life-size  pictorial  sheet  repre 
senting  an  elephant  performing  on  a  tight-rope,  and  another  an 
tipodean  extravaganza  showing  the  same  beast  standing  on  his 
head.  The  publication  of  the  "  Elephantine  "  poster  aroused  the 


IIEM1XISCENCES    OF    DAN    HICE 

curiosity  of  the  public  to  concert  pitch.  The  announcement 
was  regarded  as  a  huge  circus  joke,  an  incredible  but  pardon 
able  instance  of  the  license  permitted  the  projectors  of  circus- 
posters. 

The  following  incident  will  serve  to  illustrate  the  skepticism  of 
the  amusement-loving  people  and  the  harsh  awakening  that  re 
sulted.  At  Danbury,  Conn.,  a  State  which  despite  its  wooden 
nutmeg  and  hat-block  industries,  the  late  P.  T.  Barnum  once  said 
was  productive  of  the  most  prolific  growth  of  gullible  guys  in  all 
New  England,  Colonel  Rice  and  his  elephantine  wonder  had  en 
countered  a  veritable  cyclone  of  criticism.  Either  the  most 
fecund  manager  had  fibbed  about  his  native  State  for  some  in 
scrutable  advertising  purpose,  or  else  the  people  must  have  seen 
a  new  light  since  the  days  when  the  Woolly  Horse  and  What  Is  It? 
befogged  their  mental  vision.  There  had  inevitably  been  wrought 
a  miraculous  change.  The  pyrrhonist  was  everywhere  when  Eice 
and  the  rhinoceros  put  in  an  appearance.  Doubting  Thomases 
and  deriding  skeptics  had  sprung  forth  from  the  "  gullible 
ground  "  from  which  P.  T.  Barnum  had  reaped  so  rich  a  harvest. 
Colonel  Rice  suffered  as  a  result.  The  press  pilloried  the  "  fakes," 
public  opinion  took  up  the  matter,  and  in  consequence  a  commit 
tee  of  citizens  waited  on  Colonel  Rice  and  requested  an  oppor 
tunity  to  investigate  the  "  animile."  One  night  in  the  presence 
of  a  crowded  house  this  wish  was  gratified.  The  spokesman  of 
the  committee,  a  veterinary  surgeon  and  horse  expert  (?),  of  some 
suburban  standing,  remarked  as  he  stepped  into  the  ring,  that 
he  would  proceed  to  "  elucidate."  Uncle  Dan  held  the  head  of 
the  beast  in  chancery  with  an  iron  chain  connecting  with  a  ring 
in  the  proboscis,  while  the  chairman  critically  proceeded  to  ex 
amine  the  "  mechanism  "  of  the  mastodon.  He  had  reached  the 
rear  of  the  pachydermatous  mammal,  when  the  latter  suddenly 
swung  about,  and,  upsetting  Colonel  Rice,  caught  the  "  elucida- 
tor  "  on  his  horns,  hurling  him  across  the  ring  ropes  into  the  row 
of  seats.  For  a  brief  moment  the  audience  became  panic-stricken. 
Colonel  Rice  vaulted  over  the  embankment  and  soon  reached  the 
far-from-doubting  but  thoroughly  dishevelled  elucidator,  who 
rapidly  recovered  his  equilibrium  and  returned  with  the  Colonel 
to  the  ring,  where,  turning  to  his  fellow  committeemen,  he 
shouted  in  piercing  sibilants,  "  Darn  yer,  come  and  finish  the  job; 
if  that  yar  i  animile '  is  all  mechaniz  then  I'll  be  goll  darned  if 
he  aren't  got  more  life  in  him  that  a  i  Sandy  Hill's  hornet.' ': 

It  is  needless  to  add,  however,  that  his  fellow  committeemen 
had  ere  this  fully  realized  the  enchantment  of  distance. 

Later,  however,  complications  threatened  to  keep  Uncle  Dan 
himself  some  time  on  the  horns  of  a  dilemma,  when  it  was  bruited 
about  that  the  said  "  elucidator  "  was  going  to  invoke  legal  re- 


142  KEMLNlSCENCEb    OE    DAN    KICE 

dress  for  the  injuries  to  his  dignitary.     The  affair,  however,  was 
amicably  adjusted. 

A  few  years  later,  at  St.  Louis,  Uncle  Dan  concluded  one  of  the 
most  unprecedented  engagements  ever  made  in  that  city,  that  is, 
considering  the  excited  state  of  the  popular  mind  and  the  hard 
times  then  prevailing.  Wherever  Colonel  Rice  went,  from  the 
St.  Lawrence  to  the  Delta  of  the  Father  of  Waters,  his  patriotism 
kept  pace  with  his  popularity.  From  the  hour  when  Louisiana 
seceded  from  the  Union,  when,  standing  in  the  centre  of  his 
great  circus  tent  pitched  on  St.  Charles  Street,  New  Orleans,  he 
unfolded  the  folds  of  the  stars  and  stripes  and  appealed  to  his 
Southern  brethren  to  stem  the  tide  that  might  engulf  and  efface 
from  among  the  nations  of  the  earth  that  glorious  emblem,  with 
the  thrilling  traditions  of  heroic  deeds  that  hallowed  its  past,  on 
and  up  to  the  fatal  hour,  when,  at  Chicago,  he  became  unmanned 
and  wept  in  a  pitiful  way  in  the  circus  ring,  when  he  was  com 
pelled  to  announce  the  tragic  end  of  the  immortal  Lincoln,  the 
honest,  fearless  patriot  and  true  American  endeared  himself  alike 
to  Southern  and  Northern  friends  by  a  fearless,  almost  reckless, 
devotion  to  the  Union,  and  on  more  than  one  occasion  their 
friendship  stayed  the  hand  of  many  a  would-be  assassin.  And 
yet  he  never  spoke  slightingly  of  his  friends  south  of  Mason  and 
Dixon's  line,  but  lived  on  fostering  in  every  way  the  hope  that  the 
peerless  Lee  gave  voice  to,  bringing  again  the  day  when  fraternal 
hands  would  grasp  each  other  under  the  old  flag  under  a  newer 
and  more  enduring  republic.  Such  were  his  heartfelt  sympathies; 
such  he  believed  to  be  the  correct  ideas  of  those  who  cherish  the 
bravery  and  honor  of  our  ancestors.  Little  occasion  for  wonder 
then  that  Colonel  Rice  turned  the  circus  ring  into  a  rostrum, 
where  North  and  South  he  alternately  discussed  with  an  eloquent 
fervor  the  issues  of  the  hour,  pleading  now  with  impassioned 
vehemence  for  the  Union  and  again  hurling  scathing  invectives 
at  those  who  sought  its  destruction.  A  little  incident  which  oc 
curred  at  Louisville,  Ky.,  aptly  illustrates  in  a  characteristic  way 
Uncle  Dan's  methods  in  the  direction  indicated.  George  D. 
Prentiss  visited  the  national  theatre  and  was  the  recipient  of  a 
marked  compliment  from  the  celebrated  humorist,  who  after  ad 
verting  upon  the  calamities  of  the  country  and  the  disasters 
which  had  befallen  the  Union  cause  through  political  "prestidiga- 
tators,"  expressed  his  pride  and  satisfaction  at  the  attendance  of 
the  great  and  patriotic  editor.  "  That  man,"  said  Colonel  Rice, 
pointing  to  a  gentleman  who  occupied  a  conspicuous  position  in 
one  of  the  boxes,  "  is  George  D.  Prentiss,  of  Louisville."  The 
effect  was  electrical,  the  audience  rose  en  masse  and  gave  three 
cheers  for  the  great  journalist,  followed  by  as  many  more  for  Rice 
himself. 


THE    "CALL   IX    TIME"   COACH 


DAN    KICK'S   CAKKIAGE 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  143 

September,  1SG1,  found  the  Great  Show  homeward  bound. 
For  some  time  Colonel  liice  had  been  hard  at  work  speaking  for 
the  Union  with  fearless  energy  throughout  the  South,  leaving  the 
circus  combinations  to  run  itself.  The  following  analysis  of  the 
man.,  his  motives  and  methods  of  advocating  the  Union  cause 
may  be  quoted  with  singular  appropriateness  in  this  connection. 
It  is  from  the  pen  of  an  unknown  contributor  to  a  Northern 
paper: 

"  I  attended  a  public  meeting  in  Mason  City,  Va.,  a  few  days 
since,  and  among  those  who  spoke  was  a  gentleman  by  the  name 
of  Eice,  whom  the  venerable  Lincoln  introduced  as  a  citizen  from 
Erie  County  Pa.,  in  the  Keystone  State.  Of  course,  as  a  Penn- 
sylvanian,  I  felt  an  interest  in  the  man;  so,  therefore,  I  gave  his 
remarks  more  than  ordinary  attention.  He  wras  eloquent,  power 
ful,  and  easy  in  his  address  and  manner,  and  won  the  admiration 
of  all  who  surrounded  his  rostrum.  His  practical  knowledge  of 
the  habits  of  men  in  different  localities  and  the  system  he  pur 
sued  in  pointing  out  the  impossibility  of  the  success  of  secession 
was  no  less  significant  for  its  originality  than  its  truthfulness.  He 
told  what  the  manufacturing  North  could  do,  and  how  essential 
the  activity,  genius,  and  skill  of  her  people  were  to  the  welfare 
of  the  great  agricultural  territory  of  the  '  Sunny  South/  He  did 
not  abuse  or  ridicule  any  people  for  their  peculiarities  or  scoff  at 
the  manners  or  conventionalities  of  those  who  live  in  certain  lo 
calities.  He  showed  himself  a  Union  man  who  had  made  the 
history  of  his  country  a  study,  whose  object  it  was  to  preserve 
it  whole  and  undivided,  and  cause  it  to  go  conquering  and  to 
conquer. 

"  But  who  do  you  suppose  this  fine  orator  to  have  been?  No 
less  a  personage  than  Dan  Eice,  the  American  humorist,  whom  I 
had  seen  and  heard  frequently  in  Quakeropolis.  I  heard  that 
Dan  was  smart,  but  had  no  idea  that  his  talents  ran  in  a  political 
channel.  He  is  dignified  on  the  platform,  but,  as  in  his  profes 
sional  circle,  evidently  seems  to  command. 

"  He  is  not  an  enthusiast,  neither  does  he  appear  like  a  man 
who  is  laboring  for  the  gratification  of  personal  ambition  or  pecu 
niary  advantage.  To  speak  plainly,  he  talks  like  a  well-informed, 
educated  gentleman,  who  knows  what  he  is  talking  about,  and 
who  works  for  the  love  of  the  cause  he  has  enlisted  in.  I  do  not 
know  whether  he  has  a  desire  for  office,  and  I  presume  he  has  not, 
but  it  occurred  to  me  that  a  man  like  him,  who  has  travelled  so 
far,  has  observed  so  much  and  was  so  familiar  with  the  wants, 
habits,  and  manners  of  the  people  of  all  localities,  could  not  speak 
in  vain  among  the  law-givers  and  sage  councils  of  the  nation. 
Perhaps  the  next  place  I  may  encounter  this  rising  young  man, 
Eice,  will  be  in  the  State  Senate,  or  in  the  Halls  of  Congress. 


144  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

More  unlikely  things  have  happened,  and  men  of  far  less  ability 
and  character  have  been  honored  in  that  way.  Depend  upon  it, 
that  Rice  will  make  his  mark  and  turn  his  abilities  to  good  ac 
count." 

In  1861,  at  Baton  Rouge,  Colonel  Rice  received  a  letter  from 
the  secretary  of  the  Confederate  Navy,  at  Montgomery,  Ala.,  re 
questing  information  as  to  whether  his  steamboat,  "  James  Ray 
mond/'  could  be  purchased,  and  on  what  terms.  Rice  replied, 
in  a  diplomatic  way,  asking  for  time  to  consider  the  proposition. 
It  was  a  time  when  temporizing  was  tantamount  to  treason.  As 
no  answer  was  received  Uncle  Dan  "  pulled  up  stakes "  and 
sought  safety  in  flight,  being  well  aware  that  the  next  step  would 
result  in  confiscation  at  any  price.  Subsequently,  in  1862,  whilst 
exhibiting  in  Washington  at  the  National  Theatre,  a  sensational 
but  withal  ludicrous  sequel  grew  out  of  this  incident.  One  eve 
ning  whilst  indulging  in  the  barbarous  pastime  of  being  shaved 
at  Willard's  Hotel,  Senator  Simon  Cameron,  of  Pennsylvania, 
then  Secretary  of  War,  after  greeting  Colonel  Rice  in  a  somewhat 
brusque  manner,  informed  him,  in  an  austere  and  somewhat  dic 
tatorial  tone,  that  the  President  desired  to  see  him  immediately. 
Dan  demurred,  as  his  circus  performance  was  about  to  commence. 
Cameron  becoming  apparently  incensed  at  Rice's  apparent  indif 
ference,  remarked  as  he  walked  away  in  a  significant  tone,  "  Well, 
a  bayonet  prod  may  prove  more  effective."  Uncle  Dan  became 
suddenly  distraught.  Something  was  wrong — there  was  trouble 
brewing;  and  so  when,  after  the  circus  ended,  he  received  an  ad 
ditional  summons  to  appear  before  the  President,  he  lost  little 
time  presenting  himself  at  the  White  House.  The  cabinet  was  in 
session.  Rice  was  ushered  in.  The  first  to  greet  him  was  the 
President,  who  with  an  air  of  almost  oppressive  gravity  inquired, 
if  he,  Colonel  Rice,  had  while  at  New  Orleans  an  interview  with 
Secretary  Thompson  of  the  Confederacy;  if  he  had  not  been  in 
communication  with  members  of  the  Confederate  cabinet;  if  he 
had  not  offered  to  sell  his  steamboat  to  the  Johnny  Rebs;  if  he 
had  not  written  a  letter  to  that  effect;  if  he  had  not  received  a 
reply  bearing  favorably  upon  that  offer,  etc.,  etc.  The  rapidity 
with  which  these  questions  were  uttered,  the  grave  bearing  and 
intensely  severe  expression  of  the  venerable  President's  face  al 
most  caused  the  Colonel  to  collapse.  He  looked  hurriedly  from 
one  cabinet  officer  to  the  other,  and  felt  he  was  up  against  a  crisis. 
With  fiery  indignation  he  denied  the  charge,  protested  his  patri 
otism,  his  loyalty,  and  was  about  launching  out  in  an  impassioned, 
and  possibly  immortal  burst  of  eloquent  defence,  when  Secretary 
Stanton  stepped  forward  and.  presenting  a  dog-eared  letter  for 
the  Colonel's  inspection,  asked  him  if  the  signature  attached  to 
that  communication  was  written  by  Colonel  Rice.  The  Secretary 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    EICE  145 

would  not  permit  the  great  showman  to  scan  its  contents.  The 
Colonel,,  now  bewildered  beyond  relief,  admitted  its  genuineness, 
but  not  before  he  brought  his  list  down  with  tremendous  force 
on  the  table  fronting  him  and  demanded  to  know  "  what  in  h — 11 
it  all  meant  ?  "  President  Lincoln  roared  laughing,  the  spell  was 
broken;  the  other  members  of  the  cabinet  joined  in  the  merri 
ment,  and  a  few  moments  later  Uncle  Dan  realized  he  had  been 
the  victim  of  a  practical  joke.  The  letter  written  by  him  to  the 
Secretary  of  the  Confederacy  had  been  intercepted  in  transit  by 
the  Federal  authorities  and  forwarded  to  Washington.  It  fur 
nished  a  clew  to  turn  the  laugh  on  the  professional  merrymaker, 
whose  aggressive  patriotism  was  as  familiar  as  his  fun-making 
fame. 

It  was  at  this  time  while  performing  at  the  old  Bowery  Theatre, 
New  York,  under  the  management  of  Sam  Stickney,  that  Mr. 
Spaulding  sought  him  out  and  begged  Uncle  Dan  to  bridge  over 
the  estrangements  of  the  past — bury  the  hatchet  so  to  speak,  and 
renew  their  business  associations.  This,  at  first  blush,  was  re 
volting  to  the  feelings  of  the  Colonel,  who  protested  that,  al 
though  he  never  carried  a  grudge  against  living  or  dead,  and 
therefore  whilst  willing  to  forgive  the  ruin  which  the  revengeful 
acts  of  his  old  enemy,  abetted  by  his  partner  Van  Orden,  had  beset 
his  career,  still  a  business  alliance  was  quite  another  matter,  and 
one  which  he  did  not  desire  to  undertake.  Spaulding  pleaded 
his  personal  regard  for  Rice,  and  sought  Stickney's  assistance  to 
placate  the  Colonel.  But  Rice  was  relentless.  For  several  days 
Spaulding  labored  in  many  ways  to  accomplish  his  purpose.  He 
finally  renewed  his  efforts,  through  a  mutual  friend,  with  the 
result  that  Uncle  Dan  yielded  and  a  contract  was  executed,  which 
in  consideration  of  $5,000  gave  Spaulding  an  undivided  one-half 
interest  in  the  profits  of  the  show.  This  somewhat  unnatural 
business  union  lasted  three  years,  and  was  finally  terminated  in 
18G4,  through  the  dishonesty  of  Mr.  Spaulding's  sons,  who,  in 
various  capacities,  were  identified  with  the  enterprise.  Colonel 
Rice  closed  his  season  at  Pittsburg,  Pa.,  October  5,  1864,  where 
his  mammoth  circus  properties  went  into  winter  quarters.  In 
the  spring  of  1862  the  troupe  travelled  through  Canada  west, 
entering  at  Sarnia  and  trailed  along  the  line  of  the  Grand  Trunk 
to  Kingston,  leaving  the  province  for  Oswego  on  board  the 
steamer  "American  Lake."  Shortly  after  the  steamer  had  started 
for  Oswego  with  Colonel  Rice  and  his  retinue  a  salute  of  seven 
guns  was  fired  in  honor  of  his  departure.  This  was  about  three 
or  four  o'clock  Sunday  morning.  The  "  good-by-boom,"  accord 
ing  to  Uncle  Dan,  came  from  Fort  Frederick.  He  had  formed 
the  acquaintance  of  many  of  the  garrison  stationed  there,  hence 
this  flattering  display  of  their  good  will. 
10 


146  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 


CHAPTEK   XVII. 

IN  January,  1861,  the  principal  cities  on  the  Ohio  and  Missis 
sippi  were  visited  by  the  Great  Show.  At  New  Orleans 
Colonel  Rice  joined  his  company.  His  reappearance  in  the  Cres 
cent  City  was  the  occasion  for  many  remarkable  demonstrations 
of  popular  favor.  The  war  fever  was  rapidly  spreading.  To 
uphold  "  Old  Glory  "  on  the  one  hand;  to  preach  the  gospel  of 
the  Union,  and  on  the  other  hand  to  hold  his  grasp  upon  the 
popular  heart,  of  which  he  was  a  veritable  idol,  was  a  stupendous 
task,  drawing  to  the  utmost  upon  the  resourcefulness  of  the  man. 
But  Dan's  diplomacy  and  native  tact  won  the  day.  Whilst  ex 
hibiting  at  New  Orleans,  the  following  eloquent  tribute,  paid 
Uncle  Dan  by  "  Chips,"  the  brilliant  correspondent  of  the  New 
York  "  Spirit  of  the  Times,"  very  effectively  emphasizes  the  es 
teem  in  which  the  genial  jester  was  held: 

MY  DEAR  COLONEL  PORTER:  Did  you  ever  meet  Dan  Rice? 
I  presume  you  have,  as  it  has  been  your  luck  to  enjoy  the  pleas 
urable  associations  of  nearly  all  worthy  dignitaries.  But  for  fear 
you  have  not,  let  me,  for  my  own  personal  gratification  and  the 
edification  of  some  of  your  many  thousand  readers,  give  you  my 
opinion  of  the  man.  Now  as  a  general  thing  I  am  not  a  very 
ardent  admirer  of  the  circus,  and  as  for  clowns,  why  I  abominate 
them.  Joe  Millerisms  are  good  enough  in  their  way,  but  when  a 
fellow  in  a  motley  garb  with  a  spotted  countenance  and  white 
washed  cheek,  attempts  to  pass  them  off  on  me  as  original  witti 
cisms,  I  feel  disposed  to  treat  the  aforesaid  mountebank  in  a  re 
markably  hostile  manner.  A  good  ring  jester  I  had  not  seen 
since  William  F.  Wallett  was  here  some  few  years  ago,  so,  actuated 
by  curiosity,  I  was  persuaded  to  forsake  the  legitimate  drama, 
forswear  the  opera,  repudiate  the  burnt-cork  melodies,  and  neg 
lect  the  charming  Maggie  Mitchell,  who  was  at  that  moment 
aforesaid  playing  the  ancient  and  venerable  gentleman  in  black 
with  susceptible  young  men  who  have  a  proclivity  for  handsome 
young  girls  with  neat  gaiters  on  pretty  feet,  short  dresses,  capital 
bonnets,  curly  hair,  and  saucy  eyes,  all  of  which  teasing  adjuncts 
Miss  Maggie  has  got  at  command. 

Well,  to  turn  from  the  sublime  to  the  ridiculous,  I  went  into 
the  Academy,  when,  judge  of  my  surprise  to  find,  instead  of  an 
ugly  clown  who  unscrupulously  murdered  the  King's  English  and 
made  grimaces  with  impunity,  a  well-built,  commanding  gen 
tleman,  dressed  in  a  court  suit,  and  who  walked  with  grace, 
manly  bearing,  and  dignity,  with  a  youthful  face,  a  fine  forehead, 
an  expressive  eye,  and  a  fascinating  mobility  of  countenance. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAX    HICE 

Dan  Rice  stood  before  me.  He  began  to  talk.  He  alluded  to 
the  state  of  public  affairs;  he  interspersed  his  remarks  with 
quaint,  funny,  and,  withal,  modest  incidents.  1  was  agreeably 
disappointed,  and  1  wondered  how  a  man  so  eminently  endowed 
by  nature,  with  a  well-balanced  mind,  a  quick  intellect,  and  a 
liberal  education,  could  possibly  have  devoted  so  many  years  to 
that  pursuit,  which,  though  honorable  enough  in  its  way,  can 
never  rank  with  professions  that  now  command  the  respect  and 
admiration  of  the  world. 

Rice  is,  however,  a  genius,  and  one  who  will  be  regarded  as  a 
bright  light,  and  through  his  example  and  efforts  the  "  Show 
men  "  are  somewhat  higher  in  the  social  scale  than  formerly. 

What  a  romance  of  reality  would  Rice's  career  make!  Person 
ally,  I  don't  know  him,  but  the  impression  he  made  upon  me  was 
most  favorable.  I  have  been  told  that  he  has  been  made  the  vic 
tim  of  many  misrepresentations  and  is  the  child  of  misfortune, 
but  that  his  indomitable  will,  firmness  of  mind,  and  powers  of 
forbearance  have  enabled  him  to  live  down  all  obstacles.  So 
might  it  be.  Perhaps,  dear  Colonel,  when  I  know  more  of  Rice,  I 
may  have  something  more  to  say  about  him. 

"  CHIPS." 


CHAPTER   XVIII. 

IN  THE  CRESCENT  CITY — PATRIOTISM  AND  POPULARITY — THE 
GREAT  CLOWN'S  CANDIDACY — A  CRITIC'S  CONCLUSION — 
IN  THE  MANAGERIAL  HARNESS  ONCE  AGAIN — A  MAM 
MOTH  UNDERTAKING — SHOWMAN  AND  POLITICIAN — UNCLE 
DAN  BREAKS  DOWN — THE  FUN-FACTORY  AFTER  FORTY 
YEARS  SHUTS  DOWN — A  FAREWELL  TOUR  AND  FINAL  BOW 
—PROFESSIONAL  AND  PERSONAL  TRIUMPHS. 

IX  1864  he  was  nominated  for  the  State  Senate  of  Pennsylvania 
by  the  soldiers.  He  was  in  the  Far  West  at  that  time  and  had 
but  two  weeks  to  give  his  answer,  which  was  to  the  effect  that  if 
they  ran  him  they  must  do  it  upon  their  responsibility  as  he  had 
no  time  to  devote  to  the  labors  of  a  political  campaign.  He  ran 
eighteen  hundred  votes  ahead  of  the  ticket,  and  was  thankful  for 
the  narrow  escape  he  made  from  being  elected,  for  he  could  not, 
under  existing  circumstances,  serve  a  term  as  State  Senator.  His 
letter  of  acceptance  had  but  one  week's  time  for  circulation 
among  the  people  of  the  district. 

Later,  in  1800.  ho  WPS  nominated  by  the  soldiers  of  the  19th 
Congressional  District,  Pennsylvania.     Colonel  Rice  declined  the 


KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAX    RICE 

honor.,  withdrawing  in  favor  of  Glenni  W.  Schofield,  who  was 
elected. 

In  April,  1865,  Colonel  Eice  was  engaged  by  Forepaugh  & 
O'Brien,  opening  at  the  Walnut  Street  Amphitheatre,  Philadel 
phia.  Subsequently,  whilst  with  his  greatest  show  at  Chicago, 
Colonel  Eice  received  the  news  of  the  assassination  of  President 
Lincoln.  He  at  once  cancelled  all  future  engagements  and  re 
turned  to  his  home  in  Girard,  Pa.  Later  he  purchased  the  Mabey 
Bros/  circus  outfit.  He  also  secured  the  first  herd  of  sacred 
cattle  ever  brought  to  this  country,  at  a  cost  of  $5,000^,  and  ex 
hibited  the  beautiful  beasts  throughout  the  Lake  cities.  They 
were  purchased  from  the  Hofnagel  estate  at  Xew  Hope,  Pa.  In. 
1866  he  renewed  his  copartnership  with  Forepaugh,  making  a 
tour  of  the  Middle  States.  A  year  later  he  appeared  again  under 
the  management  of  Cooper,  Gardner  &  Hemming,  receiving 
$1,000  a  week  for  his  services.  The  years  of  1866  and  1867  found 
Colonel  Eice  in  the  managerial  harness  once  again.  He  launched 
another  mammoth  enterprise,  a  circus  and  menagerie,  organized 
on  a  scale  hitherto  unrivalled  in  variety  and  novelty  of  attraction 
and  lavish  expenditure  of  time  and  money.  It  was  the  largest, 
most  complete,  and  successful  venture  ever  undertaken  by  Colo 
nel  Eice.  The  menagerie  embraced,  among  many  other  remark 
able  attractions,  some  of  the  rarest  quadruped  novelties  known 
to  the  amusement-loving  people  of  two  continents,  and  without 
a  shadow  of  doubt,  the  most  costly  stud  of  educated  horses  ever 
seen  the  world  over,  was  represented  in  this  marvellous  aggrega 
tion.  Excelsior,  the  most  wonderfully  trained  horse  on  earth, 
whose  equal  has  never  been  seen  before  or  since,  was  the  star 
attraction.  The  act  performed  by  this  blind  horse,  borne  as  he 
was  on  a  platform  carried  on  the  shoulders  of  twelve  stalwart  at 
tendants,  who  paraded  the  living  statuesque  equine  around  the 
ring,  the  horse  resting  on  three  legs,  while  one  of  his  forefeet  was 
adjusted  with  graceful  effect  on  a  pedestal,  presented  one  of  the 
most  exquisitely  picturesque  tableaux  ever  conceived  by  a  horse 
trainer  or  limned  by  a  Bosa  Bonheur.  The  arenic  attractions 
presented  to  the  public  an  array  of  talent  never  gathered  together 
theretofore  under  one  canvased  roof  and  in  a  single  ring.  This 
unique  and  complete  exhibition  of  circus  and  menagerie  made  a 
tour  of  the  Atlantic  seaboard  States,  giving  a  final  exhibition  on 
the  cotton  factory  lot,  Second  Street  above  North,  in  the  City  of 
Harrisburg,  Pa.  His  presence  there  was  the  occasion  of  the  fol 
lowing  tribute  to  him  as  a  showman,  as  a  patriot,  and  something 
of  a  politician: 

"  Mr.  Bice  as  a  showman  has  a  reputation  in  his  line  of  business 
which  is  unequalled,  and  is  known  to  almost  every  man,  woman, 
and  child  in  the  country.  In  his  private  walks  of  life  he  has  be- 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

come  equally  famous  for  his  liberality  and  undaunted  persever 
ance.  In  giving  one  or  two  instances  to  illustrate  this,  we  hope 
he  will  pardon  us  for  thus  bringing  his  private  with  his  public 
reputation  in  print.  We  have  given,  from  time  to  time,  the 
movements  in  different  counties  of  our  State  for  the  purpose  of 
erecting  monuments  to  their  brave  sons  who  fell  in  the  Eebellion, 
but  as  yet,  in  no  instance,  excepting  one,  have  we  learned  of  the 
consummation  of  this  praiseworthy  purpose,  and  in  this  we  are 
indebted  to  the  liberality  of  the  man  that  almost  every  negro  and 
bootblack  on  the  street  familiarly  styles  '  Dan  Rice,  the  Clown.' 
Mr.  Eice,  though  by  no  means  a  *  million  heir/  partaking  of  the 
patriotic  spirit,  went  to  work  at  once,  obtained  the  consent  of  the 
authorities  of  the  town  he  resides  in,  Girard,  Erie  County,  and 
erected,  at  his  own  expense,  a  magnificent  monument  to  the 
soldiers  who  fell  in  battle  from  that  county,  costing  him  thou 
sands  of  dollars.  Xor  is  this  the  only  instance  of  his  liberality, 
his  frequent  contributions  to  the  sick  and  wounded  soldiers,  are 
acts  deserving  the  highest  praise. 

Mr.  Eice  has  also  taken  considerable  part  in  political  matters, 
and  was  about  this  time  nominated  for  State  Senator  by  his 
friends  in  a  district  largely  against  the  party  of  which  he  was  the 
nominee,  but  was  so  popular  that  his  opponent  barely  escaped 
defeat  by  a  very  small  vote.  Dan  was  off  travelling  with  his 
show,  but  had  he  remained  at  home  and  taken  the  stump  in  the 
canvas,  he  would  have  been  elected.  He  had  recently  travelled 
much  through  the  South,  and  since  his  return,  at  the  request  of 
Secretary  Seward,  has  given  the  government  much  valuable  in 
formation  relative  to  those  States." — Ilarrisburg  Patriot  and 
Union. 

After  thirty  weeks  of  the  most  brilliant  campaign  he  had  ever 
experienced  Colonel  Eice,  mentally  jaded  and  physically  ex 
hausted,  returned  to  his  palatial  home  in  Girard,  Pa.  He  was 
shattered  in  health  and  his  physician  urged  a  much  needed  rest. 
But  not  for  long.  The  merrymaker's  mercurial  nature  would  not 
be  denied.  Eest  wras  one  thing — restraint  quite  another.  Of 
physicians,  Uncle  Dan  had  a  healthy  abhorrence,  presumably 
because  he  had  been  something  of  a  "  Medicine  Man  "  himself. 
His  confinement  chafed.  It  wras  a  sort  of  strait-jacket  to  his 
animal  spirits.  The  fun-factory,  which  had  been  running,  and 
working  overtime  at  that,  for  forty  consecutive  years,  was  rusting 
with  inaction.  To  plan  was  but  to  put  into  practical  operation, 
or  as  Uncle  Dan  says,  "  With  me  it  was  at  that  time  a  case  of 
kicking  and  conquering.  I  won  out,  got  on  my  feet  and  put  into 
execution  a  determination  to  make  a  farewell  tour  of  the  principal 
cities  of  the  Xorth  and  West.  T  had  amassed,  it  is  true,  several 
fortunes.  I  have  given  all  but  the  one  I  now  had  away.  I  was 


150  HEMLNISCENCES    OF    DAN    BICE 

tempted  to  enjoy  it.  I  decided  to  withdraw  from  the  amusement 
world.  This  would  be  my  final  bow."  That  tour  was  an  extraor 
dinary  series  of  professional  successes  and  personal  triumphs, 
born  only  of  the  esteem  and  admiration  in  which  he  was  held  and 
which  were  rarely  if  ever  before  accorded  to  an  entertainer  in  his 
peculiar  sphere. 

The  following  eloquent  tributes  of  the  press  at  this  time  gave 
an  added  interest  to  his  Western  tour,  which  seemed  destined  to 
mark  the  close  of  his  circus  career  among  a  people  whose  regard 
for  him  as  a  man  was  scarcely  paralleled  by  their  admiration  for 
him  in  a  professional  role. 

From  the  "  Milwaukee  Sentinel :  " 

The  attendance  at  Dan  Eice's  Great  Show  yesterday  was  in 
deed  complimentary  considering  the  intense  heat,  and  both  enter 
tainments  fully  justified  our  remarks  of  yesterday.  Both  per 
formers  and  animals  seemed  inspired  by  the  rest  obtained  during 
their  sojourn  in  our  beautiful  city,  and  one  and  all  played  their 
parts  excellently  well.  As  for  the  great  centre  of  attraction,  Col. 
Dan  Rice,  he  even  outdid  himself.  Although  physically  greatly 
depressed  and  hoarse  to  a  painful  degree,  he  summoned  both 
muscular  and  mental  powers  to  do  justice  to  the  occasion  of  his 
farewell  to  his  warm  Milwaukee  friends,  and  never  on  the  saw 
dust  was  witnessed  and  enjoyed  as  bright  and  too  brief  an  hour  of 
eloquence,  pathos,  wit,  and  humor. 

In  doffing  his  helmet  of  felt  to  say  good-by  forever,  Dan  was 
particularly  happy  and  touching  in  his  remarks.  After  warmly 
thanking  his  friends  in  this  vicinity  for  the  patronage  and  per 
sonal  encouragement  which  had  invariably  greeted  hinL,  he  mod 
estly  and  beautifully  alluded  to  the  disposition  of  the  immense 
sums  of  money  he  had  made  in  his  arduous  and  often  misunder 
stood  profession.  He  stated  that  during  a  career  of  nearly  thirty 
years  he  had  given  various  charitable  objects  the  munificent  sum 
of  nearly  a  million  and  a  half  dollars.  He  did  not  speak  of  it 
boastfully,  but  seemed  really  impressed  with  a  true  sense  of  the 
blessing  Providence  had  bestowed  upon  him  in  permitting  him 
the  privilege  of  so  generously  giving. 

Dan  Rice  is  truly  a  remarkable  man — remarkable  for  the  abil 
ity,  energy,  and  success  which  has  marked  his  career;  remarkable 
for  philanthropy  not  to  have  been  looked  for  in  one  who  had  much 
of  discouragement  and  disadvantage  to  contend  with,  and  still 
more  remarkable  for  an  earnest  desire  to  elevate  and  benefit 
where  selfishness  and  hard-heartedness  were  to  be  looked  for. 

In  bidding  him  farewell,  we  really  regret  to  part  with  one  who 
has  afforded  us  so  much  pleasure,  and  perhaps  taught  us  lessons 
of  charity  in  estimating  deeds  rather  than  professions." 


UICE    IX    KIJS'G    COSTUMK 


KEM1X1SCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE  151 

The  "  Pittsburg  Republic  "  says  of  the  farewell  tour:  The 
rush  to  see  the  equestrian  idol  of  the  masses  and  to  hear  his  words 
of  farewell  was  perfectly  tremendous.  A  living  avalanche 
threatened  to  bury  the  ticket  wagon  and  poured  into  the  tent 
until  every  available  foot  was  occupied,,  and  the  closing  of  the 
doors  upon  grievously  disappointed  hundreds  of  applicants  for 
admission  was  rendered  imperative.  But  the  merry  genius  of  the 
ring,  made  a  charmed  one  by  the  wit  and  humor  of  him  whose 
shoulders  the  mantle  of  Momus  has  dropped,  waved  his  baton  of 
felt  over  the  vast  throng,  and  good  humor,  sometimes  perhaps 
just  a  little  boisterous,  was  the  rule  without  exception.  No 
other  living  man  but  Dan  Eice  could  have  so  successfully  con 
trolled  such  a  crowd,  whose  anxiety  to  see  and  hear  everything 
would  have  defeated  itself  but  for  that  firm  and  yet  not  un 
gracious  management  born  of  the  ability  to  command.  Mr.  Eice's 
appearance  in  the  ring  was  greeted  with  cheers  and  continued 
applause.  It  was  apparent  that  the  severe  labors  of  the  thirty 
weeks'  amusement  campaign  he  was  about  so  brilliantly  to  con 
clude  had  severely  taxed  even  his  iron  constitution,  but  rallying 
with  wonted  determination  and  energy,  his  wit,  genius,  brilliant 
and  philosophic  humor  and  quaint  originality  were  never  more 
effectively  displayed.  He,  of  course,  carried  his  auditors  with 
him,  and  left  a  permanent  impression  no  one,  in  his  lifetime,  at 
least,  will  equal  or  decrease.  In  the  early  part  of  the  evening's 
entertainment,  the  printers  of  Pittsburg  presented  Mr.  Eice  with 
a  magnificent  copy  of  Shakespeare's  works,  as  a  sincere  tribute  of 
respect  and  esteem  from  the  disciples  of  the  "  art  preservative  of 
arts/' 

HIS  FAKEWELL  ADDRESS. 

The  "  Commercial "  says:  Before  retiring  to  doff  the  motley 
for  the  last  time  in  Pittsburg,  Mr.  Eice  stepped  into  the  circle 
which  had  been  the  scene  to  him  of  so  many  triumphs  and  spoke 
as  follows: 

It  was  in  this  city  that  I  spent  many  of  my  boyish  days.  Prob 
ably  I  may  have  been  regarded  as  being  full  of  wild  opinions  and 
some  wayward  pranks,  as  all  boys  are,  and  perhaps  a  little  dis 
posed  to  resent  an  insult  when  it  was  offered,  and  I  confess  I  have 
not  entirely  recovered  from  such  a  spirit  yet.  (Cheers.)  But 
if  this  has  been  the  case,  I  have  endeavored  from  that  time  to  this 
during  twenty-six  years,  to  be  in  all  things  just — purely  just. 
(Applause.)  I  have  been  in  this  profession  since  1841,  that  is,  in 
the  show  business.  I  have  striven  hard  during  that  time,  and 
have  labored  day  and  night  to  interest  and  amuse  the  people.  I 
regard  the  profession  I  have  followed  as  an  honorable  and  legiti 
mate  calling.  Like  all  departments  of  trade,  there  will  be  found 


152  EEMIXISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

good  and  bad  people  engaged  in  it.  I  have  endeavored  at  all 
times,  and  under  all  circumstances  to  elevate  it,  and  I  think  I  do 
not  exaggerate  when  1  tell  you  I  have  so  far  succeeded  as  to  be 
patronized  by  the  most  learned,  eloquent,  and  distinguished  gen 
tlemen  in  the  land.  (Applause.)  1  well  remember  Judge  \Vil- 
kins,  Harmon,  Denny,  and  Major  Harding.  There  are  others 
yet  living.  I  am  glad  to  mention  General  Robinson,  to  whom  I 
am  deeply  indebted  for  much  of  the  success  I  have  won,  animated 
as  I  was  by  the  counsel  of  these  distinguished  gentlemen.  It 
built  up  in  my  mind  such  an  ambition  that  at  least  I  can  proudly 
say,  in  truth  and  candor,  placing  my  hand  on  my  heart,  that  no 
man  can  say  aught  against  my  character.  (Loud  applause.)  I 
look  back  with  feelings  of  gratitude  as  I  think  of  the  time  when 
the  citizens  of  Pittsburg  came  to  my  assistance  in  the  dark  hours 
of  misfortune,  letting  the  rays  of  sunshine  down  into  my  heart. 
It  may  not  be  uninteresting  to  you  for  me  to  say  that  in  all  cases 
you  have  come  to  my  assistance  and  encouraged  and  patronized 
me;  for  this  sympathy  so  generously  bestowed  you  will  ever  be 
entitled  to  my  sincere  gratitude.  Although  once  a  poor  boy,  a 
stable-boy  if  you  like,  a  livery  stable  boy  (applause),  I  have  come 
back  to  be  taken  by  the  hand  by  all  classes  of  society.  Ladies 
and  gentlemen  give  their  smiling  approval  and  words  of  kindness, 
and  how  could  I  feel  otherwise  than  grateful?  Xo,  my  heart  is 
filled  with  gratitude  towards  you.  It  may  please  you  to  know 
how  I  have  conducted  myself  financially  since  I  started  out  in  the 
business,  and  I  consider  the  time  has  come  for  me  to  tell  you.  I 
have  made  more  money  than  any  six  of  the  richest  circus  men  in 
the  world,  and  not  by  trickery  or  fraud,  or  gewT-gaws  or  six-penn}r 
plaj^s,  but  what  I  have  accumulated  has  been  accumulated  hon 
estly  by  laboring  in  a  circle  forty-two  feet  in  diameter,  the  ring. 
(Applause.)  The  question  may  arise  what  have  I  done  with  my 
money?  In  order  that  my  many  friends  may  know  what  I  have 
done  with  it,  I  will  say  that  since  1841  I  have  devoted  to  chari 
table  and  patriotic  societies,  and  have  given  away  to  assist  in 
succoring  the  poor,  wounded,  sick,  and  oppressed,  over  a  million 
and  a  half  dollars,  and  I  have  the  documents  to  prove  it.  (Loud 
cheers.)  So  you  see  how  much  good  can  be  accomplished  by 
laboring  to  benefit  mankind.  I  have  always  endeavored  to  put 
this  fortune  which  has  been  given  me  to  proper  use,  and  have 
ever  been  ready  to  listen  to  the  voice  of  sorrow  and  distress;  con 
stantly  eager  to  do  good  with  it,  that  I  might  say  that  I  am  grate 
ful  for  these  gifts.  I  might  have  done  more,  I  might  have  done 
better,  but  I  have  been  as  judicious  in  carrying  out  my  plans  as 
my  humble  abilitv  would  admit.  How  rejoiced  I  am  to  think 
that  God  has  enabled  me  to  do  what  I  have,  and  yet  left  me  an 
abundance  of  this  world's  cheer  for  my  wife  and  children.  (Ap- 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  153 

plause.)  And  now  I  would  say  to  you,  young  men,  in  starting  out 
in  life,  be  mindful  that  you  can  do  good;  never  close  your  hearts 
to  the  appeal  of  hunger,  sorrow,  or  distress,  but  try  constantly  to 
relieve  the  wants  of  suffering  humanity.  Be  an  ornament  to  so 
ciety,  mindful  of  your  dependence  upon  the  Giver  of  all  good,  and 
when  you  do  this,  you  can  look  forward  with  hope  to  the  time 
when  you  can  expect  to  receive  a  crown  of  glory.  That  God  may 
bless  you  and  prosper  you  all  is  the  heartfelt  wish  of  your  humble 
servant,  Dan  Eice. 


COL.  DAX  EICE'S  FAREWELL  TO  MILWAUKEE. 

(From  the  Milwaukee  News.) 

DAN  RICE'S  LAST  VISIT:  Dan,  the  original,  the  remarkable, 
the  innovator,  the  home  jester,  and  the  happy  humorist  has  come, 
and — we  pen  it  with  sincere  regret — gone  forever.  He  made  his 
brief  visit  among  us  as  brilliant  and  pleasing  as  we  had  a  right  to 
expect  from  his  ability  and  popularity.  Of  the  character  of  the 
performances,  we  have  alread}'  spoken.  Those  of  yesterday  were 
equal  in  merit  to  their  predecessors  and  received  the  same  hearty 
commendation  from  the  public. 

The  exhibition  of  last  evening  was  rendered  more  than  ordinar 
ily  remarkable  by  the  famous  address  of  Colonel  Rice,  an  address 
which,  for  earnest  eloquence,  pathos,  and  power,  deserves  a  better 
chronicling  than  the  reporting  facilities  of  a  circus  tent  admitted 
of.  After  gracefully  thanking  his  Milwaukee  friends  for  their 
continued  countenance,  he  pertinently  and  beautifully  reverted 
to  his  own  eventful  career  and  defended  his  profession  from  the 
mistaken  aspersions  ignorantly  or  maliciously  cast  upon  it. 
Xaturally  and  properly  the  occasion  called  forth  reference  to  the 
disposition  of  the  large  fortunes  acquired  during  his  thirty  years' 
of  arenic  experience.  We,  as  humble  chroniclers  of  events,  have 
been  especially  interested  in  the  career  of  the  famous  clown  and 
jester,  Dan  Rice,  for  a  number  of  years,  and  know  of  his  many 
large  charities  which  are  creditable  both  to  his  heart  and  head. 

We  bid  Dan  Rice  adieu  with  regret,  not  only  as  one  who  has 
from  our  earliest  years  afforded  us  many  hours  of  recreation,  but 
as  a  pattern  of  unostentatious  and  wide  liberality  who  has  fur 
nished  an  example  well  worthy  of  imitation  and  respect. 


154:  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    BICE 


CHAPTER    XIX. 

A  SERIES  OF  SENSATIONAL,  SPECTACULAR,  AND  GIGANTIC 
ENTERPRISES — COL.  RICE?S  GREATEST  VENTURE — UNPAR 
ALLELED  SUCCESSES — A  PINNACLE  OF  PECUNIARY  PROFITS 
— THE  WORLD-FAMOUS  PARIS  PAVILION — AN  ALADDIN'S 
FLYING  PALACE — AN  ALEXANDER  OF  THE  ARENA — A  PRE 
MONITION — THE  TELLTALE  CREVICE — A  DREADFUL  DIS 
ASTER. 

IN  the  year  1868  Colonel  Eice  identified  himself  with  the  Fore- 
paugh  Circus,  receiving  $1,000  a  week  and  expenses.  The 
following  season  he  purchased,  at  a  cost  of  $10,000,  the  steamboat 
"  Will  S.  Hays,"  so  named  after  the  popular  Western  poet.  He 
toured  the  principal  cities  from  St.  Paul  to  New  Orleans,  giving 
the  closing  exhibition  at  St.  Louis.  About  this  time  Avery 
Smith,  John  A.  Nathans,  and  Girard  Quick  formed  a  copartner 
ship  which  subsequently  was  known  in  the  circus  world  as  the 
"  Fiat-Foot  Party."  How  they  came  to  be  branded  with  this 
lugubrious  title  Uncle  Dan  knoweth  not,  except,  as  he  facetiously 
suggests,  because  they  were  always  walking  "  on  their  uppers." 
Under  their  management  was  a  troupe  of  Italian  performers, 
which  Dan  Rice,  when  he  reached  Memphis  in  the  spring  of  1870 
consolidated  with  his  great  show.  This  mammoth  institution 
up  to  that  date  represented  beyond  doubt  the  greatest  arenic  tal 
ent  that  two  continents  could  produce.  It  was  the  most  sensa 
tional,  spectacular,  and  gigantic  arenic  entertainment  ever  wit 
nessed  in  the  United  States.  Never  before  had  such  a  combina 
tion  of  circus  performers  been  massed  under  one  canopy.  Every 
artist  was  an  unchallenged  world  champion  in  his  class.  Beauty, 
merit,  and  muscle  were  combined  to  an  unprecedented  and  ex 
traordinary  degree;  all  in  all  it  proved  to  be  the  most  elaborate, 
elegant,  novel,  and  varied  entertainment  which  Dan  Rice,  as 
manager  and  proprietor,  ever  presented  to  the  public.  This  vast 
circus  combine  made  an  extended  tour  of  the  Mississippi  and  its 
tributary  streams,  visiting  the  principal  cities  and  towns  of  the 
South  and  Southwest.  Some  idea  of  its  magnitude  may  be  de 
rived  from  the  fact  that  it  employed  two  steamers,  the  "  Will  S. 
Hays  "  and  "  Dan  Rice,  Jr.,"  the  former  to  transport  the  small 
army  of  performers,  the  magnificent  stud  of  horses,  and  the  gen 
eral  paraphernalia  of  a  great  show,  and  the  latter  to  carry  the 
advertising  contingents  and  the  tons  of  illuminated  and  gorgeous 
circus  posters,  to  herald  the  coming  of  the  largest  show  on  earth 
or  water.  From  the  organization  to  the  disbandment  of  these 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  155 

two  unrivalled  companies  of  artists,  the  veteran  showman  ex 
perienced  the  most  gratifying  triumphs  of  his  professional  life, 
not  alone  in  the  popular  applause  and  laudatory  tributes  of  the 
press,  but  in  the  monetary  gains,  which  reached  the  very  pinnacle 
of  pecuniary  profits,  in  the  enormous  net  return  of  over  $125,000. 
The  succeeding  season  of  1870  found  Colonel  Eice  again  "  ex 
ploring  and  exploiting,"  as  he  puts  it,  on  the  constant,  tireless, 
irrepressible  scent  after  some  new  and  still  more  startling  devel 
opments  with  which  to  tickle  the  public  palate.  His  instincts 
for  novel  innovations  were  as  marvellous  as  the  rapidity  with 
which  he  caused  his  plans  to  materialize  and  take  practical  and 
profitable  form.  He  spurned  the  adapter's  artifices — he  was 
original  or  nothing.  Woolly  horses,  Mermaids,  and  What  Is  It's? 
were  not  the  mediums  with  which  his  creative  brain  sought  to 
help  himself  and  humbug  the  public.  As  the  successful  news 
paper  man  must  possess  a  natural  nose  for  news  to  enable  him  to 
rise  above  his  fellows,  and  attract  public  recognition  of  his  merits, 
so  Uncle  Dan  possessed  a  well-developed  nose  for  novelties,  "  and 
you  may  add  a  pretty  prominent  proboscis  on  physical  lines  at 
that,"  I  hear  Uncle  Dan  laughingly  hint  over  my  shoulder  as  I 
write.  His  ambition  soon  found  its  proper  vent.  Little  wonder 
then  that  he  decided  to  purchase  the  world-famous  Paris  Pavilion 
or  Amphitheatre  Portatif,  which  was  effected  in  the  spring  of 
1871.  This  undertaking  outranked,  strange  to  say,  every  pre 
vious  venture  of  his  sensational  career.  It  seemed  like  the  cap 
ping  of  a  climax;  surely  he  could  go  no  higher;  probably  the 
altitude  was  too  great  a  risk;  well  it  appeared  to  be  an  alternative 
of  the  topmost  rung  or  the  bottom  of  the  pit  with  Colonel  Eice. 
Whatever  the  result,  Colonel  Eice  embarked  in  the  enterprise 
with  his  usual  fund  of  indomitable  pluck  and  doggedness  of  pur 
pose,  and  opened  to  the  public  this  magnificent  palace  of  amuse 
ment  at  St.  Louis,  Mo. 

The  purchase  by  Colonel  Eice  of  this  magnificent  portable 
amphitheatre,  known  as  the  "  Paris  Circus  Pavilion,"  together 
with  the  immense  quantity  of  costly  wardrobe,  trappings,  Gobelin 
carpets,  curtains,  and  general  superb  paraphernalia  of  the  most 
expensive  material  specially  manufactured  in  Paris,  therefore, 
with  a  view  of  giving  arenic  exhibitions  therein  in  the  larger 
cities  of  America,  inaugurated  a  new  and  brilliant  era  in  the 
world  of  popular  amusements,  and  was  a  daring  innovation  upon 
the  established  and  manifold  discomforts  and  dangers  heretofore 
regarded  as  inseparable  from  and  indispensable  to  circus  perform 
ances,  which  Mr.  Eice  was  assured  the  people  would  duly  appre 
ciate  and  liberally  reward.  As  this  elegant  realization  of 
Aladdin's  Flying  Palace  was  the  only  edifice  of  the  kind  in  exist 
ence,,  or  ever  constructed,  and  had  never  been  thrown  open  to  the 


150  REMIXISCEXCES    OF    DAX    RICE 

public  until  that  time,,  a  brief  chronicle  of  its  origin,  and  a  suc 
cinct  description  of  its  novel,  ingenious,  and  perfect  plan  is  neces 
sary  and  will  be  found  of  interest. 

During  the  summer  of  1866  five  of  the  wealthiest  and  most 
enterprising  showmen  of  the  United  States  conceived  the  idea  of 
establishing  a  circus  composed  of  champion  performers  of  the 
New  World,  in  Paris,  during  the  great  World's  Fair,  or  Exposition 
Universelle,  of  1867.  In  furtherance  of  this  project,  and  that 
nothing  might  be  wanting  to  successfully  minister  to  the  fastid 
ious  taste  and  favorably  impress  the  hypercritical  populace  of  the 
earth's  gay  capital,  the  services  of  the  most  celebrated  architects 
and  mechanics  of  the  day  were  employed,  whose  practical  skill 
and  experience  was  for  months  devoted  to,  and  an  enormous  sum 
expended  in,  designing  and  minutely  perfecting  the  Paris  Circus 
Pavilion,  or  "  Amphitheatre  Portatif  d'Ete."  This  anomalous 
yet  complete,  beautiful,  and  imposing  structure  was  shipped  to 
France  in  a  steamer  specially  chartered  to  transport  the  precious 
freight;  but  owing  to  errors  in  advance  management  and  the 
vehement  opposition  engendered  by  its  preceding  fame  in  the 
jealous,  alarmed  minds  of  managers  to  the  manor  born,  was  never 
erected  on,  the  then,  Imperial  soil.  Its  disappointed  and  un 
justly  treated  owners  reshipped  it  to  this  country  and  carefully 
stowed  it  awray  in  New  Orleans,  wrhere  it  had  remained  until  1871 
in  undeserved  obscurity,  with  the  exception  of  being  partially  put 
up  on  one  or  two  occasions  for  display,  in  hope  of  securing  a  pur 
chaser.  The  unfortunate  experience  of  its  proprietors  seemed 
to  have  somewhat  demoralized  them,  and  though  exceptionally 
confident  when  travelling  the  old,  well-worn  show  route,  their 
nerve  failed  them  in  confronting  the  expense,  risk,  and  labor 
attendant  upon  the  cis- Atlantic  employment  of  their  admirable 
conception,  and  it  remained  a  magnificent  elephant  upon  their 
hands,  until  rescued,  the  ensuing  winter,  from  threatened  obliv 
ion  by  Colonel  Rice,  who,  recognizing  at  once  its  superior  excel 
lence,  reposing  full  as  much  faith  in  American  as  in  foreign  ap 
preciation,  and  reasonably  reliant  upon  a  thirty  years'  day  and 
night  experience  and  acquaintance  with  the  needs  and  wishes  of 
the  amusement-loving  public,  became  at  once  its  proprietor  and 
the  revolutionizer  of  the  very  circus  system  of  which  he  had  been, 
for  over  a  quarter  of  a  century,  the  recognized  leader. 

The  giant  stride  in  the  path  of  amusement  progression,  the 
deference  to  the  eas£  and  security  of  the  public,  the  radical 
erasure  of  conventional  ring-marks — the  substitution  of  luxurious 
comfort  for  torturing  posture  and  obstructed  vision,  the  trans 
formation  of  bellying  and  unstable  canvas  into  firm-founded 
and  perfectly  appointed  amphitheatre — all  this  has  not  been  con 
summated  without  an  outlay  and  possible  intervention  of  con- 


KEMIXISCENCES    OF    DAN    BICE  157 

tingencies  that  no  one,  save  Dan  Kice  alone  among  the  many  able 
and  wealthy  members  of  his  profession  had  the  spirit  and  confi 
dence  in  the  people  to  assume.  Of  the  size  and  completeness  of 
the  pavilion,  and  the  labor,  expense,  and  responsibility  involved 
in  its  transportation  and  erection,  a  partial  idea  may  be  formed 
from  a  consideration  of  the  fact  that,  closely  packed,  it  filled  one 
of  the  largest-sized  freight  cars,  and  an  extra  force  of  experienced 
men,  under  a  master  of  construction,  was  required  to  put  it  up 
and  handle  it. 

The  interior  view  and  diagram  presented  on  a  preceding  page 
represent  with  scrupulous  accuracy  its  appearance,  arrangement, 
and  capacity,  and  will  aid  the  reader  in  locating  the  following 
description,  which  is  merely  in  the  nature  of  a  brief  and  su 
perficial  sketch  of  its  general  appointments  and  prominent  me 
chanical  peculiarities,  as  no  mere  word  painting  can  convey  any 
adequate  conception  of  the  magnificent  coup  d'ceil  presented 
by  the  vast  circular  auditorium,  when  deftly  combined,  in  grace 
ful  strength  and  harmonious  design,  the  gorgeous  hangings  and 
decorations  bathed  in  a  dazzling  flood  of  gaslight.  In  order  to 
secure  perfect  symmetry,  unyielding  strength,  and  entire  equality 
of  observation  the  sides  of  the  pavilion  were  subdivided  into 
twenty-two  sections,  formed  into  a  circle  and  supporting  each 
other  at  their  termini  upon  the  principle  and  ancient  design  of 
the  Great  Solomon  the  keystone  of  the  arch.  This  gave  the  build 
ing  a  diameter  of  120  feet,  making,  of  course,  a  total  circumfer 
ence  of  360  feet.  Each  of  these  sections  was  1G  feet  in  height 
and  composed  of  handsomely  finished  and  substantial  wooden 
strips  closely  joined  at  the  sides  and  dovetailed  at  the  ends,  assur 
ing  mutual  strength  and  support. 

Let  us,  in  the  conveniently  supposable  absence  of  the  gentle 
manly  doorkeeper,  pass  free  through  the  broad-arched  central 
entrance  and  avail  ourselves  of  the  opportunity  to  make  our 
"  First  appearance  in  the  ring,"  and  from  the  centre  of  that 
ground  dedicated  to  Hercules,  Apollo,  Mercury,  and  the  Centaurs 
take  in  the  novel  and  attractive  situation  at  a  sweeping  glance. 
Your  preconceived  impressions  of  circus  interiors,  established 
from  dim  childhood  recollection,  of  a  sort  of  tent,  a  screened  and 
inhabited  lumber  yard,  where  some  nomadic  lunatic  has  been  ap 
parently  engaged  in  a  hasty  and  futile  effort  to  square  the  circle 
with  a  lot  of  treacherous  and  shifting  planks,  each  one  harder  to 
sit  on  than  a  stool  of  repentance,  and  nowhere  a  rest  for  the 
weary  dangling  leg,  will  turn  a  double  somersault  and  bring  you 
to  the  sudden  conviction  that  after  all  there  is  something  de 
cidedly  new  under  the  circus  sun. 

From  the  edge  of  the  ring  extends  to  the  furthest  verge  of 
the  grand  outer  circle  a  matched  floor  with  a  sufficient  ascending 


158  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

tendency  to  secure  an  uninterrupted  view  of  the  performance 
from  every  part  of  the  building,  which  in  this  desideratum  it  may 
be  here  remarked  is  democratically  perfect  as  far  as  seeing  is  con 
cerned,  there  being  absolutely  no  preference  in  seats,  all  of  which 
were  so  arranged  as  to  render  it  impossible  for  any  one  to  obstruct 
the  view  of  others. 

The  division  of  seats  as  to  classification  begins  at  the  ring; 
those  nearest  there  representing  the  parquette,  in  fact  as  well  as 
name,  and  being  first  on  the  price  list.  These  premieres,  as 
they  are  designated  in  the  diagram,  contained  five  hundred  and 
forty  luxurious,  portable,  cane-bottomed  sofa  seats  in  sections 
of  twenty-seven  (27)  each.  They  commanded  the  nearest  view 
of  the  performance  and  performers,  and  were  therefore  consid 
ered  the  most  desirable. 

Directly  back  of  these  parquette  seats,  and  elevated  consider 
ably  above  them,  is  a  circle  of  forty-four  (44)  elegant  private 
boxes,  designated  in  the  diagram  as  u  loges,"  divided  by  railings 
handsomely  finished  in  black  walnut  and  each  supplied  with  six 
easy  chairs.  Many  preferred  these  to  seats  in  the  parquette  and 
they  were  specially  adapted  for  the  cosy  enjoyment  of  family 
parties.  Behind  the  loges  was  a  lobby  of  three  feet  in  width 
running  the  entire  circle  of  the  building,  for  the  use  of  visitors 
and  occupants  of  the  loges.  These  did  not  at  all  interfere  with 
the  occupants  of  the  family  circle  who  were  behind.  This  family 
circle,  or  secondes,  which  was  raised  gradually  to  the  outer  wall, 
and  in  turn  raised  several  feet  above  the  boxes,  contained  over 
1,000  chairs.  This  was  a  very  commodious  station  and  afforded 
an  excellent  view  of  the  whole  house.  Behind  the  secondes  was 
another  lobby  of  four  feet  wide,  touching  the  wall  and  running 
around  the  entire  circumference,  which  was  also  reserved  for 
promenaders. 

Immediately  opposite  one  another  were  two  very  noticeable 
elevations.  One,  that  of  the  main  entrance,  was  originally  in 
tended  as  the  Grand  Imperial  Box  for  the  special  honor  and 
glory  of  his  late  Majesty,  Napoleon  III.  Colonel  Rice,  in  grateful 
appreciation  of  invaluable  favors  and  kindness,  rededicated  it, 
this  time  to  the  Republican  Majesty  of  the  Free  Press  of  the 
land,  to  whose  representatives  its  exclusive  use  was  cordially  and 
respectfully  tendered.  Here  all  necessary  writing  materials,  etc., 
were  provided  for  editorial  use.  The  elevation  opposite  above  the 
mysterious  dressing-room  curtain  was  reserved  to  the  splendid 
orchestra  of  th?  circus,  under  the  leadership  of  the  distinguished 
young  Prof.  Edgar  Mentor. 

The  building  was  brilliantly  lighted  with  gas,  there  being  in 
addition  to  the  powerful  star  centre-pole  chandeliers,  candela 
bra,  with  globes,  upon  each  post  around  the  circle  of  boxes,  and  a 


MONT.MEXT    ERECTED   TO    THE    SOLDIERS    OF    PENNSYLVANIA   AT    GIRARD     I> 


KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    IUCE  159 

row  of  the  same  around  the  family  circle,  besides  the  burners  in 
the  editorial  box  and  orchestra. 

Special  attention  had  been  paid  to  the  important  matter  of 
ventilation,  which  was  secured  by  an  opening  of  some  four  feet 
in  width,  extending  all  the  way  round  the  top  of  the  sides,  and 
provided  with  a  canvas  screen  of  elegant  design,  which  could  be 
raised  or  lowered,  according  to  the  thermometrical  and  baromet 
rical  dictation. 

Finally,  this  splendid  establishment,  which  could  on  occasion 
comfortably  seat  over  3,000  people,  was  canopied  with  a  canvas 
top  the  peak  of  which  soared  fully  sixty  feet  above  the  earth. 
It  was  manufactured  of  a  newly  discovered  material,  transparent 
to  the  sight,  but  almost  as  impervious  to  water  as  an  otter's  back. 

All  in  all  this  unique  structure  was  the  most  elegant  edifice  of 
its  kind  ever  dedicated  to  the  God  of  laughter  by  so  worthy  a  son 

of  Momus  as  the  subject  of  these  memoirs. 

*          *          *   .       *  *          *  *          *          * 

The  following  years,  from  1872  to  1877,  were  marked  by  the 
same  restless,  insatiable  thirst  and  passion  for  "  the  something 
new.7'  The  Alexander  of  the  arena  was  ever  alert  for  some  un- 
conquered  or  undiscovered  field  for  his  masterful  and  ambitious 
nature,  to  enable  him  to  add  to  his  almost  unbroken  series  of 
managerial  triumphs.  Xo  venture,  however  risky,  no  enterprise, 
however  hazardous,  checked  his  progressive  and  equally  aggres 
sive  ambition.  His  native  versatility  of  expression  was  only 
equalled  by  his  limitless  love  of  variety.  Hippodrome  and  Rac 
ing  Associations  which  he  organized  no  sooner  served  their  popu 
lar  purpose,  than  a  circus  of  trained  horses  followed  as  an  accom 
plished  fact.  A  little  later  he  "  starred  "  with  the  Stowes'  Circus 
throughout  the  South. 

A  well-nigh  miraculous  escape  from  a  shocking  death  attended 
a  visit  made  about  this  time  by  Colonel  Rice  to  the  pit  of  a  lead 
mine,  at  Roseclair  on  the  Ohio  River,  about  five  miles  below 
Elizabeth.  Uncle  Dan  had  decided  to  show  at  this  mining  town 
and  give  a  benefit  there  in  aid  of  the  sappers'  families,  many  of 
whom  some  time  previous  had  been  rendered  destitute  by  the 
devastation  caused  by  the  ravages  of  fire  and  flood.  Accepting 
an  invitation  to  accompany  Mr.  Chittendon,  the  mining  superin 
tendent,  on  a  visit  into  the  labyrinth  of  lead,  Colonel  Rice  was  soon 
at  the  bottom  of  the  main  shaft.  After  making  a  few  minutes' 
round  of  inspection,  it  was  suggested  that  a  visit  be  made  to 
where  a  lar^e  body  of  miners  were  employed,  wrhen  Uncle  Dan 
could  make  known,  after  an  introduction,  the  benevolent  pur 
pose  of  his  visit.  About  thirty  feet  from  the  main  shaft  Mr. 
Rice,  whilst  examining  the  peculiar  construction  of  the  roofing 
and  shoring  system,  noticed  directly  over  head  a  great  seam  in  a 


160  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

chamber  braced  by  heavy  beams,  the  fissure  extending  some  dis 
tance  down  and  diagonally  towards  the  well  of  the  main  shaft. 
He  imagined  as  he  noted  the  deep  crevice  that  it  appeared,  to 
his  distorted  vision,  to  open  and  close,  widen  and  warp  from 
time  to  time.  Suddenly  he  became  possessed  of  an  uncanny 
premonition,  a  sense  of  impending  disaster,  and  turning  rather 
abruptly  to  Mr.  Chittendon  requested  him  to  defer  his  intended 
visit  to  the  miners  until  the  following  day,  pleading  meanwhile 
personal  discomfiture  due  to  his  unusual  surroundings.  A  few 
minutes  later,  when  Superintendent  Chittendon  and  Colonel  Eice 
had  reached  terra  firma,  a  sudden  sound,  half-rumble,  half-roar, 
accompanied  by  a  quivering  sensation  as  if  the  ground  beneath 
their  feet  was  as  so  much  shifting  sand,  and  followed  by  a  dense 
cloud  of  smoke  from  a  distant  shaft,  forecasted  the  horrible 
holocaust  that  followed.  In  twenty  minutes  the  great  cavern 
of  lead  collapsed,  burying  the  unfortunate  miners  in  its  ruins. 


CHAPTER    XX. 

LIGHTS  AND  SHADOWS — BREASTING  THE  TIDE — SINKING  OF 
THE  STEAMBOAT  "  DAMSEL  " — "  EXCELSIOR^  "  REMARKABLE 
RESCUE — JOHN  HOGAN^S  HEROISM — COL.  RICE'S  ROYAL 
RECEPTION  AT  SAN  FRANCISCO — MRS.  MARK  HOPKINS'S 
FRANK  AVOWAL— ONE  OF  THE  MOST  PAINFUL,  PLEASANT, 
AND  PROFITABLE  INCIDENTS  IN  COL.  RICE'S  CAREER — 
TWO  UNPARALLELED  MISFORTUNES — A  RAILROAD  FIRE 
AND  FINANCIAL  FAILURE,  BRINGING  RUIN  TO  THE 
GREAT  CLOWN — TWO  FORTUNES  SWEPT  AWAY — A  PROVI 
DENTIAL  INCIDENT. 

THE  succeeding  six  years,  crowded  as  they  were  with  the  di 
versified  interests  and  manifold  incidents  inseparable  from 
life  on  the  road,  only  served  to  throw  new  lights  and  shadows 
on  Uncle  Dan's  kaleidoscopic  career.  Now  the  shadows  were 
growing  deeper,  tinged  with  the  blinding  mists  of  domestic  and 
financial  complications,  then  again  a  silver  strand  fringed  the 
gloomiest  prospects.  The  indomitable  spirit  of  Uncle  Dan  began 
to  bend  under  the  strain.  Business  reverses  occurred  and  re 
curred  with  startling  rapidity,  at  unexpected  intervals.  Mis 
fortunes  seemed  to  crowd  thick  and  fast  upon  his  heels.  Bank 
rupted,  crushed  with  weight  of  accumulated  debts,  and  broken  in 
health,  Colonel  Rice  was  forced  to  face  fearful  odds  to  breast  the 
tide  which  had  set  in  against  him.  Still  with  heroic  persistence 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  161 

he  fought  on  to  recover  his  old  prestige  and  its  rewards.  In  the 
summer  of  1879,  while  in  transit  from  St.  Louis  to  Northern 
.Nebraska,  a  calamity  overtook  the  great  show  about  seventy-five 
miles  below  Decatur  on  the  Missouri  River.  The  steamboat 
"  Damsel/'  which  was  conveying  the  entire  circus  exhibits,  em 
bracing  not  only  the  entire  property  necessary  to  an  arenic  enter 
tainment,  but  treasures  of  untold  value  to  Colonel  Rice  and  his 
employees  was  destroyed  by  fire — all  in  all  a  most  disastrous  and 
disheartening  experience.  The  steamer  and  cargo  proved  an  ir 
redeemable  loss,  with  but  one  exception,  the  peerless  blind  equine 
marvel,  "  Excelsior/'  who  was  enabled  to  swim  ashore  in  the 
terrifying  storm,  guided  by  his  faithful  groom,  John  Hogan. 

From  Cincinnati  to  San  Francisco  in  the  year  1882,  Colonel 
Rice  went  overland  with  the  John  Robinson  troupe. 

A  remarkable  circumstance  in  connection  with  this  visit  to  the 
Golden  Gate,  and  which  at  the  time  became  the  all-absorbing 
subject  of  the  circus  world,  was  developed  by  the  fact  that  this 
circus  combination  was  doomed  on  all  sides  by  the  devotees  of  the 
sawdust  circle  to  be  a  dismal  and  most  disastrous  undertaking. 
It  was  dubbed,  and  apparently  justly  so,  a  makeshift  affair,  a  sort 
of  counterfeit  presentment  in  the  circus  line.  On  the  whole  a 
second-hand  show  of  the  most  antiquated  type.  In  truth,  Uncle 
Dan  was  to  enact  the  Herculean  role  of  a  "  circus  colossus,"  bear 
the  brunt  of  the  whole  business,  prove  to  be  the  bright  particular 
star,  the  supreme  satellite  around  which  every  other  performing 
appendange  was  to  scintillate,  pretty  much  as  a  tallow  dip  might, 
through  some  astronomical  miracle,  be  suffered  to  wink  and 
wither  in  the  wagging  wake  of  a  comet's  tail.  But  the  dismal 
and  disastrous  prediction  of  the  past  proved  far  from  verification 
in  the  near-by  future,  at  least  in  one  direction.  Whether  Uncle 
Dan  proved  to  be  the  all-absorbing  orb,  or  the  appendages  builded 
better  than  the  circus  critics  knew;  or  whether  an  estimable  and 
wealthy  lady,  by  one  touch  of  nature  proved  a  mascot  to  the 
alleged  misfit  menage,  one  fact  survives  all  shafts  of  prophetic 
and  forecasted  failure,  inasmuch  as  that  tour  netted  a  profit  of 
well-nigh  $300,000.  When  the  Colonel,  with  the  "Robinson 
Rovers,"  reached  Frisco,  he  was  confronted  with  a  condition  of 
things  wholly  unparalleled  in  all  his  circus  career.  The  city  took 
on  a  holiday  dress.  The  mining  spirit  of  '49  dominated,  per 
meated  everything.  The  route  of  the  grand  street  parade  pre 
sented  scenes  hitherto  without  precedent  in  the  history  of  the 
empire  city  of  the  Pacific  slope.  The  home-coming  of  a  con 
quering  hero,  laden  with  the  priceless  treasures  of  foreign  con 
quest  may,  in  a  measure,  serve  to  reflect  to  the  mind's  eye  of  the 
render  some  idea  of  the  overwhelming  character  of  the  ovation 
which  greeted  the  Prince  of  Jesters  as  he  was  escorted  through 
11 


162  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

the  city.  The  business  as  well  as  residential  portions  of  the  line 
of  march  furnished  a  bewilderingly  beautiful  picture,  the  build 
ings  being  decorated  with  bunting,  banners,  bannerets,  and  other 
devices,  in  which  Old  Glory's  colors  blended  again.  Flags  and 
flowers  flanked  the  procession  as  it  wended  its  way  amid  the 
dense  mass  of  humanity  that  greeted  its  progress*.  Floral  arches 
of  every  conceivable  design  bridged  streets  and  avenues,  great 
banners,  emblazoned  with  the  inscriptions  "  Welcome  to  Dan 
Rice,"  "  Hail  to  the  Prince  of  Jesters/'  etc.,  paid  flattering  tribute 
to  the  genial  and  popular  Uncle  Dan.  A  somewhat  sensational 
incident  occurred  during  the  passage  of  this  most  triumphal  spec 
tacle.  A  wheel  became  detached  from  one  of  the  chariots  pre 
ceding  the  carriage  which  Colonel  Rice  occupied.  The  accident 
happened  in  front  of  Busch's  Hotel.  The  Colonel's  vehicle  was 
quickly  surrounded  by  anxious  and  enthusiastic  friends  and  ad 
mirers.  Old  "  Forty-niners  "  hurried  forward  and  started  to  un 
hitch  the  horses  and  bear  off,  on  their  stalwart  shoulders,  the 
laughing  but  embarrassed  occupant.  Presently  a  handsome 
woman,  whose  charming  face  was  familiar  to  the  excited  and 
bustling  bystanders,  elbowed  her  way  through  the  throng  and 
reached  the  side  of  the  now  rescued  Rice.  Extending  her  hand 
she  exclaimed,  "  Why,  Dan,  how  are  you;  don't  you  know  me?  " 
In  the  crush  and  confusion  Colonel  Rice,  for  a  moment,  evidently 
failed  to  meet  the  situation  with  his  wonted  gallantry.  In  a 
flash  a  pair  of  feminine  arms  encircled  his  expansive  shoulders; 
well,  something  happened,  something,  perhaps,  too  divinely  fine 
for  the  most  adroitly  delicate  touch  of  biographic  description  to 
attempt  to  portray.  If  the  situation  then  and  there  was  half  as 
trying  in  the  concrete  to  Colonel  Rice  as  it  is  now  in  the  abstract 
to  his  biographer,  the  discomfiture  of  the  genial  jester  must  have 
indeed  been  complete.  But  then  there  are  circumstances,  if 
not  situations,  when  the  truthful  chronicler  is  constrained  to 
suppress  her  emotions,  and  impelled  by  a  sense  of  duty  to  record 
what  she  hears,  if  what  she  sees  should  only  be  viewed  as  through 
a  glass  darkly.  When  Uncle  Dan,  however,  a  moment  later  had 
pleaded  many  apologies  for  his  apparent  forgetfulness,  why  then 
and  there  something  was  said  which  brought  up  the  Colonel  with 
such  a  sudden  round  turn,  that  doubtless  all  Californians  in 
general,  and  'Friscans  in  particular,  to  this  day,  have  but  to 
recall  to  be  convulsed.  Still  retaining  the  blushing  and  be 
wildered  Rice  in  her  embrace,  and  within  earshot  of  a  hundred 
spectators,  the  fair  admirer  of  other  days,  with  an  artless,  girlish 
abandon,  enthusiastically  exclaimed,  "Why,  Uncle  Dan,  I 
danced  with  you  in  my  native  town.  You  hugged  and  kissed 
me  then,  and  we  were  very  good  friends  until — well,  until  you 
pinched  me  in  the  stomach  and  I  got  mad,  but  never  mind,  let 


BEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  1G3 

us  make  up  now."  The  effect  was  electrical.  For  a  brief  mo 
ment  the  onlookers  regarded  alternately  with  amazement  the 
withal  thoroughly  self-possessed  lady  and  the  confused  and  over 
wrought  Rice;  amazement,  however,  was  rapidly  followed  by 
mingling  roars  of  laughter  and  applause.  Speaking  of  the  oc 
casion  in  later  years  Colonel  Rice  said  it  proved  to  be  at  once 
the  most  painful,  pleasurable,  and  profitable  experience  of  his 
entire  existence  in  the  show  business,  adding  that  it  was  the 
prime  cause  of  the  success  of  the  show,  the  extraordinary  incident 
liaving  been  exploited  by  the  press  and  public  to  the  utmost  limit. 
The  charming  cause  of  this  most  spectacular  and  sensational 
scene  was  the  beautiful  and  great-hearted  widow  of  Mark  Hop 
kins,  the  California  multi-millionaire.  This  estimable  lady, 
during  the  stay  of  the  show  at  'Frisco,  expended  upwards  of 
$1,000  through  the  purchase  and  distribution  of  circus  tickets  to 
the  school  children,  orphans,  and  waifs  within  the  city's  limits. 

The  years  of  1872  and  1873  were  marked  by  two  events  pa 
thetically  suggestive,  not  only  in  their  nearness,  but  in  the  order 
of  their  happening,  events  so  strangely  reciprocal  that  they  will 
be  invested  with  a  peculiar  interest  to  the  reader,  resulting  as 
both  did  in  losses  practically  beyond  redemption.  The  first  oc 
curred  when  fire  destroyed,  in  one  of  the  cars  of  the  train  con 
veying  Colonel  Rice's  troupe  on  its  farewell  tours  through  the 
West,  the  priceless  treasures  of  a  lifetime  of  patient  hoarding; 
trophies,  tributes,  testimonials,  gifts  of  the  rarest  and  most  costly 
devices  set  in  precious  stones  and  prized  beyond  all  pecuniary 
standards  of  value,  gathered  together  from  all  parts  of  the  world, 
expressive  of  the  esteem,  the  friendship,  and  the  affectionate  in 
terest  in  which  he  was  held,  and  which  bound  him,  like  so  many 
golden  links,  to  the  professional  and  social  triumphs  of  the  past. 

The  greatest  loss,  however,  was  sustained  in  the  destruction  of 
the  data,  diaries,  scrap-books,  clippings,  letters,  portraits,  etc., 
which  were  to  form  the  material  of  these  memoirs.  As  a  result, 
the  reader  may,  in  some  small  degree,  appreciate  the  herculean 
task  involved  in  the  preparation  of  this  work,  necessitating,  as  it 
did,  an  enormous  expenditure  of  time  and  money.  Following 
closely  in  the  train  of  these  seemingly  hopeless  conditions  which 
confronted  Colonel  Rice  when  he  saw  the  basic  source  of  the  in 
spiration  wherewith  to  build  his  autobiographic  sketch  of  his 
checkered  life  forever  swept  away,  there  came  another  and  appar 
ently  more  overwhelming  calamity  when  the  great  banking  house 
of  Jay  Cooke  &  Co.  announced  that  it  could  not  meet  its  obliga 
tions  (1873).  The  collapse  of  this  financial  tower  came  like  the 
shock  of  an  earthquake  over  the  civilized  world.  It  was  a  tre 
mendous  catastrophe.  Colonel  Rice  was  a  depositor,  in  fact,  the 
bulk  of  his  fortune,  $80,000,  was  in  the  vaults  of  that  firm.  The 


164:  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

night  prior  to  the  crash  Colonel  Rice,,  who  was  in  Indianapolis 
at  the  time,  received  a  telegram  from  a  friend  reciting  the  ru 
mored  involvement.  At  midnight  he  chartered  a  special  car  and 
locomotive  and  hurried  to  Washington.  But  the  harm  had  been 
done;  the  great  banking  institution  had  closed  its  doors  and 
Uncle  Dan's  possessions  were  forever  lost.  It  was  to  him  a  mad 
dening  situation.  The  pecuniary  loss  was  bad  enough — it  dazed 
him.  But  while  his  philosophic  nature  enabled  him  to  meet 
that  disheartening  aspect,  he  became  desperate,  dangerously  so, 
when  he  recalled  how  Jay  Cooke,  his  confidant  and  friend,  be 
trayed  and  wrecked  him.  The  sense  of  monetary  loss  was  as 
nothing  to  the  realization  of  the  sacrificed  friendship,  confidence, 
and  trust  which  he  reposed  in  the  great,  and,  withal  honest, 
financier.  It  was  gall  and  wormwood  to  the  soul  of  the  genial 
Uncle  Dan.  For  two  days  and  nights  he  sought  out  the  cause 
of  this  apparently  unpardonable  sin.  Every  device,  every  pre 
text,  every  influence  was  brought  to  bear  to  secure  an  interview 
with  Mr.  Cooke.  The  failures  in  that  direction  were  indeed  most 
fortunate,  providentially  so.  It  may  be  added  that  the  failure 
also  involved  many  of  Colonel  Rice's  associates,  among  whom 
was  his  ringmaster,  whose  life  savings,  $20,000,  were  swallowed 
up  in  the  collapse.  It  also  may  be  of  interest  to  note  that  the 
same  personal  friend  at  Washington  who  apprised  Colonel  Rice 
of  the  gossiped  embarrassment  of  the  big  banking  firm  was  an 
intimate  of  President  Johnson's,  hence  the  latter's  rapid  move  in 
withdrawing  $50,000  the  night  preceding  the  banker's  downfall. 
The  years  1884  and  1885  found  Colonel  Rice  on  the  lecture  plat 
form  touring  the  Southwestern  States.  This  new  departure  was 
the  signal  for  innumerable  popular  demonstrations  throughout 
his  itinerary,  surpassing,  certainly  from  a  social  viewpoint,  every 
previous  reception  accorded  the  versatile  veteran  in  the  palmiest 
days  of  his  circus  career.  The  succeeding  year  Colonel  Rice 
sought  again  to  retrieve  his  somewhat  impaired  fortunes  by  em 
barking  in  another  gigantic  enterprise.  At  Cairo,  111.,  he  con 
structed  a  floating  opera  house  with  which  he  made  a  circuit  of 
the  South.  It  was  not  a  financial  success.  Seemingly  it  was  the 
beginning  of  the  end;  mayhap  it  marked  the  close  of  the  pro 
fessional  career  of  the  most  gifted  man  that  ever,  garbed  in  mot 
ley,  entered  the  canopied  arena  of  the  circus  ring.  Failing 
health  and  financial  losses  again  impelled  the  peerless  Prince  of 
Jesters  to  feel  sadly  in  need  of  a  well-merited  retirement,  perma 
nent  perhaps  in  his  isolation  from  public  view  as  an  entertainer 
in  roles  in  which  he  had  won  his  greatest  laurels.  What  shape 
destiny  has  decreed  his  life  story  should  develop  these  pages  have 
at  least  sought  to  faintly  reflect,  and  yet,  however  vague  in  out 
lines  the  marvellous  tale  may  prove,  sufficient  light,  it  is  hoped, 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  165 

has  been  thrown  upon  the  background  of  his  noble  character  to 
inspire  the  reader  as  well  as  the  recorder  with  a  grateful  tribute 
to  Father  Time  that  so  remarkable  a  man  lived  so  long  to  link 
so  great  a  past  with  our  younger  generation.  From  the  abun 
dant  proceeds  of  his  ministry  of  mirth  schools  have  been  built, 
soldiers'  monuments  erected,  seamen's  homes  founded,  orphan 
asylums  established,  and  churches  endowed.  Throughout  the 
length  and  breadth  of  his  native  land  the  memory  of  his  munifi 
cent  deeds  will  be  in  itself  an  enduring  monument.  To  his  gen 
erous  countrymen  and  the  patriotic,  peerless  women  of  three 
generations  this  book  is  now  most  respectfully  and  most  affection 
ately  dedicated. 


13006. 


RICE'S    PERSONAL    RECOLLECTIONS. 

MEN    HE    MET—  INCIDENTS     AND     IMPRESSIONS— 
TRIBUTES—  CAUSTIC    CRITICISMS. 


first  circus  known  in  the  history  of  Ancient  Rome  was 
JL  the  Circus  Maximus,  located  on  a  strip  of  land  between 
the  Palatine  and  Aventine  Hills.  This  was  a  glorious  period  of 
Roman  history.  Since  then  a  long  line  of  "  fools/'  "  gestours," 
"  jongleurs,"  etc.,  has  descended  to  these  days.  The  permanence 
of  the  character  of  the  jester  is  not  surprising  when  the  useful 
ness  of  his  functions  is  considered.  "  To  shoot  folly  as  it  flies," 
and  with  pointed  wit  to  strike  and  burst  the  bubble  of  the  hour, 
and  to  do  so,  evoking  the  laughter  of  an  audience  without  causing 
a  pang  or  blush,  is  no  mean  accomplishment.  We  need  not  won 
der,  therefore,  to  find  the  names  and  sayings  of  "  fools  "  carried 
down  the  stream  of  history  with  those  of  kings  and  poets  and 
warriors.  One  of  these  waifs  is  familiar  to  the  readers  of  "  Edin 
burgh  Review,"  though  few  are  aware  that  its  caustic  motto,  by 
Publius  Syrus,  "  Judex  damnatur  cum  nocens  absolvitur,"  is  the 
sentence  of  a  Roman  clown.  The  editor  of  Ree's  Encyclopaedia 
remarks: 

"  We  with  difficulty  can  imagine  some  of  the  grave  and 
judicious  reflections  of  Syrus  to  be  extracted  from  the  panto 
mimes  which  he  exhibited  on  the  stage.  The  applause  given  to 
the  pieces  of  Plautus  and  Terence  did  not  prevent  even  the  better 
sort  from  admiring  these  pantomimic  farces  when  enlivened  by 
wit  and  not  debased  by  indecency.  The  mimographic  poets  of 
the  Romans,  who  chiefly  distinguished  themselves  in  these 
dramatic  exhibitions,  were  Cneius  Matius,  Decimus  Liberius, 
Publius  Syrus,  under  Julius  Caesar;  Philiston,  under  Augustus; 
Silo,  under  Tiberius;  Virgilius  Romanus,  under  Trajan,  and  Mar 
cus  Marcellus,  under  Antoninus.  But  the  most  celebrated  of  all 
these  were  Decimus  Liberius  and  Publius  Syrus.  The  first  di 
verted  Julius  Caesar  so  much  that  he  made  him  a  Roman  knight 
and  conferred  on  him  the  privilege  of  wearing  gold  rings.  He 


168  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

had  such  a  wonderful  talent  at  seizing  ridicule  as  to  make  every 
one  dread  his  abilities.  To  this  Cicero  alludes  in  writing  to  Tre- 
butius,  when  he  was  in  Britain  with  Julius  Caesar,  telling  him 
that  if  he  was  absent  much  longer  inactive  he  must  be  expected 
to  be  attacked  by  the  mime  Liberius.  Publius  Syrus,  however, 
gained  so  much  more  applause  that  he  retired  to  Puteoli,  where 
he  consoled  himself  for  his  disgrace  and  the  inconstancy  of  the 
people,  and  the  transient  state  of  human  affairs  by  the  following 
admirable  verse: 

"  '  Cecidi  ego:  vade  et  qui  sequitur:  laus  est  publica.' 
"  A  similar  sentiment  is  thus  expressed  by  Dr.  Johnson, 

" '  New  fashions  rise,  and  different  views  engage, 
Superfluous  lags  the  veteran  on  the  stage.' 

"  In  England  the  jester  was  formerly  held  in  considerable  es 
teem.  It  should  be  noted,  however,  that  there  was  generally  a 
distinction  between  the  office  of  the  '  Jester '  and  that  of  the 
'  fool/  the  former  being  deemed  honorable.  It  was  frequently 
filled  by  an  educated  gentleman,  while  the  latter  was  considered 
menial.  One  Berdic  '  joculator '  to  William  the  Conqueror  was 
presented  with  three  towns  and  five  caracutes  in  Gloucestershire. 
Will  Sommers,  jester  to  Henry  VII.,  was  also  a  man  of  mark 
and  his  portrait  is  preserved  at  Hampton  Court.  Archie  Arm 
strong,  court  fool  to  James  I.,  must  have  been  a  great  favorite, 
for  that  tobacco-eating  monarch  actually  granted  him  a  patent 
for  the  manufacture  of  pipes.  And  it  is  even  surmised  that  the 
prince  of  all  dramatists  and  poets,  Shakespeare  himself,  once  ful 
filled  an  engagement  as  jester.  There  are  four  years  of  his  life 
unaccounted  for,  unless  the  clue  may  be  found  in  a  letter  ad 
dressed  in  that  period  by  Sir  Philip  Sidney  to  his  father-in-law, 
Walsingham.  He  says,  '  I  wrote  to  you  a  letter  by  Will,  my 
Lord  of  Leicester's  jesting  player/  Mr.  Bruce,  in  the  first  vol 
ume  of  the  Shakespeare  Society's  papers,  asks,  '  Who  was  Will? ' 
Besides  Shakespeare  there  were  only  two  players  of  the  name 
known  at  that  time. 

"  As  might  be  expected,  the  true  ideal  of  a  professional  jester 
is  to  be  found  in  Shakespeare's  e  Yorick,'  the  King's  jester,  the 
absence  of  whose  eloquent  and  loving  lips  Hamlet  mourns  when 
contemplating  his  skull.  '  A  fellow  of  infinite  jest,  of  most  ex 
cellent  fancy,'  he  elevated  or  rather  restored  in  his  representa 
tion  the  character  of  a  clown  from  that  of  a  coarse  buffoon  to  that 
of  a  merry  doctor  of  philosophy,  sometimes  attempting  the  cure 
of  vice  and  folly  after  the  manner  desired  by  the  cynical  Jaques. 


KEMIXISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  169 

"  '  Invest  me  in  my  motley;  give  me  leave 

To  speak  my  mind  and  I  will  through  and  through 
Cleanse  the  foul  body  of  the  infected  world 
If  they  will  patiently  receive  my  medicine/ 

Sometimes  purging  out  '  loathed  melancholy '  by  the  exhibition 
of  wholesome  mirth,  sometimes  brightening  even  cheerfulness 
itself  by  means  of 

"  '  Quips  and  cranks  and  wanton  wiles, 
Nods  and  becks  and  wreathed  smiles, 
Sport  that  wrinkled  care  derides 
And  laughter  holding  both  his  sides/ 

and  at  all  times  infusing  the  spirit  of  wisdom  in  the  wine  of  mer 
riment.  The  advantages  of  the  motley  suit  are  very  apparent. 
The  sense  of  the  ludicrous  is  awakened  by  the  eye  before  it  is 
excited  by  the  ear,  and  thus  the  way  is  prepared  for  the  pros 
perity  of  the  jest  which,  as  Shakespeare  says,  lies  principally  '  in 
the  ear  of  him  that  hears  it.'  Like  the  wearers  of  other  profes 
sional  costumes,  legal  and  clerical,  jesters  are  privileged  to  say 
and  do  many  things  which  would  not  be  kindly  received  from 
laymen.  And  as  children  require  pills  to  be  gilded  and  medi 
cine  to  be  sweetened,  so  many  a  salutary  and  unpalatable  lesson 
may  be  administered  in  the  guise  of  a  joke.  These  things  con 
sidered,  it  may  be  doubted  whether  the  proportion  of  folly  is  not 
greater  in  the  wearers  of  sober  suits  than  in  those  disguised  as 
clowns  and  fools." 

The  first  place  among  the  eulogies  of  our  Prince  of  Jesters 
must  be  given  to  the  following  sonnet  by  a  true  poet: 

"  Full  oft  thy  efforts  in  the  mimic  art 

I've  watched,  and  marvelled  at  those  facile  powers 
That  through  the  bright  and  swiftly  gliding  hours 

That  through  the  bright  and  swiftly  gliding  hours 
In  truth  I  scarcely  know  what  is  thy  part, 

Whether  to  play  the  fool  in  sparkling  showers 

Of  jest,  or  in  this  sinning  world  of  ours 
With  sterling  wisdom  to  amend  the  heart. 

But  this  I  know — thy  genial  wit  for  me 
Hath  stirred  life's  pulses  beating  weak  and  slow, 
And  chased  the  heavy  shadows  from  my  brow 

And  lit  my  languid  eye  with  healthful  glee. 
And  so  I  pray  thy  gifts  may  long  remain 
To  gladden  future  days  and  banish  care  and  pain." 

"  A  merry  heart  doeth  good  like  medicine,"  and  is  generally 
the  offspring  of  benevolence  seeking  to  diffuse  the  happiness  it 


170  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

enjoys.  The  veteran  jester  here  self-portrayed  is  an  eminent 
example  of  this  rule  and  of  the  reward  of  the  unselfish.  "  Love, 
honor,  reverence,  and  troops  of  friends/'  are  his,  and  his  many 
charities  may  cover  the  imperfection  his  enemies  would  discover. 
It  will  readily  be  believed  that  our  task  has  been  easy  and 
agreeable.  Thousands  can  testify  of  our  dictator,  that 

"  A  merrier  man  within  the  limits  of  becoming  mirth 
I  never  passed  an  hour's  talk  withal." 

In  conclusion  we  can  only  wish  that  you  may  have  as  much 
pleasure  in  reading  as  we  have  had  in  "  taking  the  life  "  of  the 
"Jester  Clown,"  Dan  Eice. 

******* 

"  Three  decades  ago  I  doffed  the  costume  of  a  clown.  But  my 
memory  reverts  to  the  good  old  days  of  the  motley  when  I  made 
mirth  for  the  multitude  and  money  for  myself.  I  am  disgusted 
with  the  circus  of  to-day,  which  is  no  more  than  a  big  show. 
The  idea  of  performances  in  four  rings  at  once  is  absurd,  while 
the  clown,  who  in  former  days  was  the  standard  and  star  at 
traction  of  every  circus,  has  sunk  to  the  level  of  a  mere  panto- 
mimist.  The  market  rule  with  these  big  aggregations  seems  to 
be  quantity  at  the  expense  of  quality.  Oh!  for  the  circus  of  our 
daddies,  when  the  entrance  of  one  into  Wayback  or  Torpidtown 
meant  a  holiday  for  all  the  country  round.  The  circus  of  to-day 
is  but  a  mountebank  show. 

"  I  think  the  general  decadence  of  the  clown  in  this  land  has 
been  brought  about  by  the  encroachments  on  the  field  of  fun  by 
the  newspaper  paragrapher.  He  has,  with  his  flashes  of  humor 
and  wit,  gradually  forced  the  men  of  the  motley  out  of  sight;  his 
audience  is  more  readily  reached,  but  is  not  so  responsive  to 
subtle  wit  as  when  it  is  presented  keenly  by  an  inflection  or 
modulation  of  the  voice.  The  retirement  of  the  clown  has  not 
been  caused  at  all  by  a  dearth  of  mirth-makers  and  satirists. 
Humor  is  made  by  Dame  Nature  in  her  merriest  moods.  It  is, 
withal,  a  scarce  commodity;  there  is  little  of  it  in  the  market. 
A  humorist  is  by  the  Almighty  made.  A  wit  is  a  feather,  he 
shifts  with  every  wind;  a  satirist,  a  rod — he  cuts;  a  humorist  one 
of  the  grandest  works  of  God.  Bob  Ingersoll  was  not  a  wit.  He 
simply  catered  to  the  vitiated  appetites  of  the  uncultured  minds 
of  the  masses.  Artemus  Ward,  Mark  Twain,  and  other  great 
humorists  have  arrayed  against  them  a  long  record  of  uncredited 
jests,  puns,  yarns,  and  humor  stolen  from  the  ring.  I  class 
them  not  as  genuine  humorists,  such  as  Minor  Griswold,  who  was 
born  to  his  humor,  and  reeled  it  out  not  with  a  crank,  but  as  the 
ebullition  of  his  nature  prompts  it.  Wit  comes  by  rote.  The 


KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  171 

secret  of  the  modern  humorist's  success  is  best  known  by  the  true 
humorist.  But,  alas,  this  is  an  age  of  plagiarists!  I  never  said 
a  witty  thing,  to  recognize  it  as  such  at  the  time,  but  my  mental 
storehouse  has  at  intervals  leaked  little  drops  of  wisdom  and 
panned  out  nuggets  of  sense.  Park  Benjamin  called  me  as 
scathing  a  satirist  as  Ben  Jonson.  Let  the  people  judge  of  the 
truth  of  this. 

"  But  about  the  clown.  People  used  to  go  to  a  circus  to  laugh. 
I  discovered  that  fact  early  in  my  career,  and  made  money  out 
of  it.  A  successful  clown  must  possess  more  intellect,  abilitv, 
and  originality  than  a  comedian.  He  must  be  a  crack  mimic,  an 
elocutionist,  a  satirist,  and  so  ready-witted  that  he,  to  the  ring 
master,  is  a  stupid  fool,  a  buffoon;  to  the  audience  a  wise  man, 
whose  every  remark  is  impregnated  with  philosophy  as  well  as 
humor.  This  is  the  dual  character  of  the  true  clown.  No  mat 
ter  how  badly  a  clown  may  feel,  no  matter  what  sorrows  and 
cares  may  burden  his  life,  while  with  laugh  and  jest  and  sparkling 
quip  he  seeks  to  allay  the  sufferings  of  others,  he  must  conceal 
his  own.  More  than  once  I  have  played  with  a  breaking  heart 
and  was  at  my  best  in  making  the  multitudes  merry.  Ah,  there 
has  been  pathos  in  the  jester's  life,  tears  as  well  as  laughter,  sun 
shine  chased  away  by  shadows.  Ah,  well,  life  is  like  a  cocktail — 
it  needs  a  dash  of  bitters  to  make  it  palatable. 

"  About  myself?  Well,  I  achieved  greatness  in  life  at  an  early 
age.  'Twas  when  I  was  scrub-deck  on  a  Mississippi  flatboat  that 
I  became  great.  I  carried  the  tails  of  President  William  Henry 
Harrison's  long  great  coat  as  he  swept  majestically  down  the 
gangplank.  But,  unfortunately,  my  kindly  office  proved  fatal. 
I  lifted  his  coat  so  high  as  to  expose  his  thinly  clad  nether  limbs 
to  the  keen  air  until  the  President  contracted  the  cold  from 
which  he  died.  Thus  was  fulfilled  the  front  end  of  Old  Hickory 
Jackson's  prophecy  about  me. 

"  The  clowns  of  European  circuses  were  all  pantomimists, 
called  trick  clowns,  or  ( wiesers.'  To  America  belongs  the  honor 
of  producing  the  first ( talking  clown,'  or  jester,  in  the  person  of 
Joe  Blackburn,  who  made  his  appearance  in  England  about  1831. 
He  was  an  uncle  of  the  present  Kentucky  senator  of  the  same 
name.  Joe  was  a  scholar  as  well  as  a  gentleman  jester,  and  was 
born  in  Mason  County,  Ky.  A  graduate  of  Dansville  College,  he 
was  highly  cultured  and  possessed  of  marvellous  wit,  much  wis 
dom,  faultless  grace,  and  Chesterfieldian  manners.  His  chief 
charms  to  the  susceptible  were  his  songs, sung  in  a  mellow, pathet 
ically  sweet  voice  never  to  be  forgotten.  His  wit  was  pure  and 
sparkling,  his  jests  and  songs  models  of  chasteness.  Little  won 
der  that  he  was  a  man  of  many  friends.  W.  F.  Wallett,  better 
known  in  England  and  America  as  "  the  Queen's  jester,"  was  at 


172  BEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    BICE 

the  time  a  comedian  of  repute.  He  studied  Blackburn's  creation 
of  the  clown,  and  from  him  drew  his  conception  of  the  character. 
Wallett  was  the  beau  ideal  of  a  Touchstone.  He  was  also  a 
collegian,  well  up  in  standard  literature,  a  Shakespearian  stu 
dent,  and  a  widely  read  man.  He  became  a  clown,  he  told  me, 
because  there  was  more  money  to  be  made  by  playing  the  fool. 
Wallett  had  all  the  easy  assurance,  gentle  ways,  and  polish  of 
society,  but  in  my  mind,  had  not,  in  its  entirety,  the  right  con 
ception  of  his  character.  He  recited  Shakespeare  inimitably  in 
the  ring  whenever  he  could  apply  it  to  circumstances,  interpret 
ing  truly  the  language  of  the  author.  Xow  I  had  a  different 
idea  of  the  character  of  the  clown,  and  early  won  the  title  of 
Shakespearian  Jester  by  my  little  paraphrases  of  the  Bard  of 
Avon,  now  so  familiar  to  all  schoolboys.  Wallett  made  his  first 
American  appearance  in  John  Tryon's  circus,  in  Astor  Place,  in 
the  fall  of  1850.  I  made  my  debut  in  Xew  York  at  S.  B.  Howes' 
Circus,  where  Palmo's  Opera  House  afterwards  stood,  in  Cham 
bers  Street.  Wallett  was  a  great  drawing  card  in  Xew  York, 
and  attracted  the  attention  of  the  elite.  I  was  then  clown 
regnant  to  the  American  people.  Although  no  direct  challenge 
had  passed  between  Wallett  and  myself,  it  was  generally  under 
stood  that  we  were  pitted  against  each  other  in  the  contest  for 
public  approval.  With  an  eye  to  a  sensation,  I  engaged  Wallett 
to  play  in  my  circus,  thus  narrowing  down  the  contest  for  su 
premacy.  As  a  result,  a  decided  sensation  was  created.  We 
played  to  enormous  business,  opening  in  Xed  Orleans.  I  took 
a  great  liking  to  Wallett,  introducing  him  at  each  performance 
with  merited  praise,  and  seeing  that  his  name  appeared  in  larger 
print  than  my  own. 

"  Xow  for  the  difference  between  the  two  clowns.  Wallett, 
when  occasion  permitted,  quoted  Shakespeare  in  an  eloquent, 
impassioned  manner  that  commanded  admiration  for  his  ability 
and  scholarly  training.  I  followed  with  a  paraphrase.  For  in 
stance,  once  Wallett  quoted  from  '  Macbeth  '  the  familiar  '  Is  this 
a  dagger  I  see  before  me,'  etc.  When  I  came  on  with  a  great 
nourish  I  paraphrased  it  thus: 

" '  Is  that  a  beefsteak  I  see  before  me 
With  the  burnt  side  toward  my  hand? 
Let  me  clutch  thee!     I  have  thee  not, 
And  yet  I  see  thee  still  in  form  as  palpable 
As  that  I  ate  for  breakfast  this  morning.' 

"  That  sort  of  wit  delighted  circus-goers  all  over  the  land.  I 
^nd  a  marked  advantage  over  my  beloved  friend  Wallet,  in  that 
I  had  added  to  my  comicalities  by  dancing,  tumbling,  leaping, 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  173 

and  riding.  Wallet  t  and  I  were  great  friends,  though  an  ocean 
separated  me  from  that  grand  merrymaker,  now  gathered  to  his 
fathers,  but  not  until  he  had  been  honored  with  the  title  by 
royalty  itself  of  6  The  Queen's  Jester.7 

u  There  is  money  in  the  circus  business.  All  that's  necessary 
it  to  get  it  out.  1  have  often  been  asked  what  was  the  highest 
salary  I  ever  received.  For  my  services  and  the  use  of  my  name 
for  nine  years  I  drew  $1,000  a  week.  At  the  end  of  that  time  I 
had  to  borrow  my  carfare  home.  A  pig  was  the  means  of  making 
a  showman  of  me.  In  1841  I  was  a  partner  in  a  livery  business 
at  Ferry  and  Front  Streets,  Pittsburg,  when  a  man  named  Os- 
borne,  of  Cazenovia,  X.  Y.,  came  there  to  exhibit  an  educated 
pig.  I  was  so  impressed  with  the  tricks  of  the  animal  that  I  saw 
big  money  in  it.  I  sold  out  my  share  in  the  livery  business,  and 
with  the  proceeds  purchased  Osborne's  pig  and  started  on  the 
road.  Osborne  afterward  was  a  doorkeeper  of  the  New  York 
Assembly.  My  pig  made  money  for  me.  He  told  a  person's 
age  by  cards  and  indicated  affirmative  and  negative  answers  by 
motions  of  his  head.  My  first  hit  I  made  with  the  pig  was  at 
Green  sburg,  Pa.  A  Dutch  farmer  named  Jack  had  recently  had 
his  barn  burned,  and  suspected  that  a  recently  discharged  hand 
had  touched  the  fire.  I  heard  of  the  fire  and  old  Herr  Jack's 
suspicions  and  saw  a  rare  opportunity  for  a  rich  joke  and  much 
advertising.  Jack  and  his  wife  were  induced  to  visit  my  edu 
cated  pig,  and  the  farmer,  after  seeing  the  creature  perform  seem 
ingly  wonderful  feats  of  intelligence,  asked  me  if  the  animal 
could  tell  who  fired  his  barn.  I  assured  him  gravely  that  the  pig 
possibly  could  tell  him  all  about  it.  I  had  seen  the  suspected 
incendiary,  and  ostensibly  proceeded  to  describe  him  to  the  pig, 
asking  it  occasionally  if  he  was  the  man.  From  time  to  time  the 
pig  nodded  assent,  and  led  the  Dutchman  to  infer  that  it  knew 
the  incendiary's  age  and  habits  of  life.  In  amazement  Herr 
Jack  declared  the  pig  to  be  in  league  with  the  devil,  as  by  no 
other  means  could  such  a  knowledge  of  the  unseen  be  attained. 
Farmer  Jack  at  once  had  a  warrant  issued  for  the  suspect's  ar 
rest,  and  the  pig  and  myself  were  subpoenaed  as  witnesses  for  the 
State.  I  shall  never  forget  that  court  scene.  The  judge  had 
been  duly  posted,  and  the  crowd  of  spectators  looked  breathlessly 
on  while  the  pig  gave  the  testimony  that  sent  the  accused  to  jail 
for  thirty  days,  for  arson,  as  the  Dutchman  thought,  but  in  real 
ity  for  disorderly  conduct,  for  the  pig's  testimony  was  all  a 
farce,  as  the  court  officials  knew  I  prompted.  But  the  public  was 
in  ignorance,  and  the  news  of  the  affair  sped  through  all  the 
rountrv.  and  brought  thousands  of  peonle  to  see  the  educated 
pig.  That  was  a  clever  stroVe  of  advertising. 

"  Subsequently  I  developed  into  the  i  Young  American  Hercu- 


HEMINISCENCES    OE    DAN    KICE 

les,'  and  astonished  the  country  folks  by  feats  of  strength,  lifting 
2,300  pounds  with  my  back.  Well,  there  are  tricks  in  all  trades 
but  ours. 

"  An  amusing  episode  was  in  the  training  of  elephants.  Once 
I  was  training  a  young  elephant  to  stand  on  its  head,  a  feat,  by 
the  way,  never  before  or  afterwards  accomplished,  and  was  sud 
denly  called  away  on  business  to  another  section  of  the  country. 
Before  going  I  instructed  my  under-trainers  about  this  particular 
lesson,  and  thought  my  instruction  would  be  faithfully  carried 
out.  Imagine  my  consternation  when  I  subsequently  rejoined 
the  circus  to  find  that  my  elephant  would  not  stand  on  its  head 
as  advertised  on  the  show  bills  all  over  the  country.  I  was  in 
a  sad  predicament,  and,  to  add  to  my  consternation,  was  arrested 
at  Elliottsville,  N.  Y.,  charged  with  obtaining  money  under  false 
pretenses,  advertising  what  I  was  unable  to  exhibit.  It  was  a 
blue  town,  and  I  was  hauled  before  a  blue  court.  I  explained 
that  it  was  all  a  mistake  of  my  advertising  agents,  who  had  in 
advertently  pasted  the  elephant  pictures  upside  down  on  the 
fences,  so  that  they  looked  like  those  of  a  pachyderm  standing 
on  its  head.  Strange  to  say,  this  story  didn't  go  down.  Then  I 
assured  the  court  that  my  elephant  could  and  would  stand  on  its 
head,  but  as  it  was  a  female,  innate  modesty  led  it  to  decline  to 
make  such  a  spectacle  of  itself  save  under  cover  of  darkness.  Of 
course  I  was  then  honorably  discharged.  The  story  got  into  the 
papers  and  was  inexpensive  advertising. 

"  Really,  I  had  wonderful  success  as  a  trainer  and  subjugator 
of  wild  beasts.  With  patience  and  an  apt  pupil  I  made  a  tight 
rope  walker  of  the  great  elephant  Lalla  Rookh,  who  made  her 
appearance  in  that  role  at  Niblo's.  Besides,  I  subjugated  the 
fiercest  of  her  kind  that  ever  killed  people  in  this  country. 
The  secret  of  the  wild  animal  trainer  is  tact.  Will-power  goes 
for  little,  but  judgment  a  long  ways.  Until  my  day,  bearding  a 
lion  in  his  den  was  thought  the  most  daring  feat  of  the  circus 
man,  but  I  trained  the  kings  of  the  forest  so  they  played  and 
gambolled  harmlessly  about  in  the  sawdust  arena.  The  great 
awe  of  the  lion  is  inspired  by  his  ferocious  appearance.  He 
isn't  so  bloodthirsty  as  he  looks.  His  growls  are  often  for  very 
joy,  but  the  audience  don't  know  it.  A  lion  always  growls  for 
joy  when  his  food  appears,  and  grows  to  caress  the  hand  that 
feeds  him.  I  always  fed  my  lions  while  training  them,  and  they 
always  growled  with  displeasure  when  I  left  them.  But  the  pub 
lic  does  not  understand  it  that  way.  Lion-training  is  not  of 
necessity  dangerous,  not  more  so  than  elephant  training.  I  once 
tamed  a  rhinoceros,  a  hitherto  unaccomplished  act.  They  had 
been  said  to  be  untamable,  but  I  taught  mine  a  simple  trick  or 
two  that  pleased  the  people  vastly.  However,  a  rhinoceros  is, 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  175 

indeed,  a  veritable  leatherhead  and  can't  be  taught  much. 
Horses  and  dogs  are  susceptible  of  much  education,  and  lions  can 
be  readily  taught  many  of  the  tricks  done  by  cats. 

"  The  secret  of  making  money  with  a  good  show  lies  in  the 
advertising  of  it.  The  only  question  is  how  to  do  the  most  effec 
tive  advertising.  I  found  no  advertising  more  profitable  than 
that  obtained  by  me  or  my  circus  being  attacked  from  the  pulpit, 
which  was  sometimes  the  case,  though  I  am,  and  for  many  years 
have  been,  a  stanch  supporter  of  the  Christian  religion.  Down 
in  Tennessee,  in  my  money-making  days,  I  caused  to  be  given 
a  circus  performance  for  the  sole  benefit  of  a  church  in  the  town 
where  we  lay.  Then  the  pastor  of  another  church  bitterly  at 
tacked  circuses  in  general,  and  mine  and  me  in  particular.  His 
attacks  were  reverted  to  in  the  ring,  and  I  did  my  best  to  ridicule 
him,  but  not  his  holy  calling,  and  enlisted  the  people  of  that 
section  in  the  squabble.  His  name  was  Chapman,  and  I  shot 
satire  at  him  until,  realizing  his  mistake,  he  withdrew  his  bat 
teries.  But  the  war  was  so  much  inexpensive  advertising  for  me. 
Afterward  I  ran  across  this  same  clergyman  living  in  Grenada, 
Miss.  I  opened  on  him  in  the  ring  there,  and  he  soon  left  the 
field.  Up  in  Xew  York  State  the  Eev.  Dr.  Dunham,  Baptist, 
began  a  crusade  against  the  devil  and  Dan  Eice.  The  latter 
looked  out  for  himself,  and  the  fight  went  so  well  that  neither 
Dr.  Dunham  nor  the  devil  have  been  in  that  town  since. 

"  Another  method  of  advertising  was  also  forced  upon  my  at 
tention.  It  was  being  arrested.  Several  times  I  have  been  in 
durance  vile,  with  great  benefit  to  my  finances.  Once  I  was  ar 
rested  and  locked  up  in  the  old  Blue  Eagle  Jail,  in  Elmira,  and 
the  news  was  telegraphed  far  and  wide  that  the  biggest  rascal 
unhung  was  caged  in  that  town.  I  stayed  there  a  couple  of 
weeks,  won  the  sympathies  of  the  people,  and  when  I  emerged 
from  the  jail  gave  circus  performances  there  until  I  got  nearly 
all  the  money  in  town.  I  had  been  arrested  for  a  miserable  little 
debt  that  I  didn't  owe,  but  I  made  it  pay  me  big  returns.  This 
event  boomed  business  and  put  me  on  my  feet  again.  The  im 
prisonment  I  commemorated  in  a  popular  song  of  forty  years  ago, 
'  The  Blue  Eagle  Jail.'  Several  times  in  my  life  as  a  showman 
I  was  arrested  in  towns  where  fanaticism's  fires  burned  high, 
charged  with  vagrancy.  Mind  you,  vagrancy,  and  my  profession 
worth  thousands  a  year  to  me.  It  took  a  strong  argument  at 
times  to  secure  my  release,  but  I  always  came  off  victorious  on 
the  merits  of  the  case.  In  fact,  I  enjoyed  the  arrests,  which  were 
the  cheapest  and  most  effective  advertising  my  shows  could  get. 
My  old  circus  also  got  a  great  boom  when  one  of  my  canvasmen 
killed  a  man  up  York  State  by  a  blow  with  a  neck  yoke.  The 
affair  cost  me  $13,000.  The  canvasman  died  a  good  Methodist 


170  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

a  year  or  so  ago,  and  but  few  people  ever  knew  that  he  had  killed 
his  man. 

u  When  the  war  came  on  I  hastened  Xorth,  and  though  I  never 
carried  a  gun,  Dan  Rice's  circus  made  money  for  patriotic  pur 
poses.  At  the  close  of  the  war  I  settled  down  at  Girard,  Pa., 
having  there  a  magnificent  country  place  on  the  edge  of  Lake 
Erie.  Attached  to  the  premises  was  a  splendid  park  of  fine  trees, 
and  to  it,  during  a  temporary  absence,  I  sent  a  party  of  titled 
Englishmen  to  shoot.  1  never  saw  them  afterward,  but  I  heard 
from  them.  They  had  anticipated  fine  sport  and  big  game,  but 
when  they  presented  their  passes  and  asked  for  the  '  head  for 
ester/  there  arose  a  slight  misunderstanding.  My  game  preserve 
was  populated  by  a  lame  elk,  three  worn-out  circus  buffaloes,  and 
a  couple  of  stuffed  black  bears.  They  went  buffalo-hunting  first, 
but  the  critters  refused  to  run;  they  shot  the  stuffed  bears  full 
of  bullets,  and  the  lame  elk  followed  them  about  like  a  lamb. 
Then  it  gradually  dawned  upon  them  that  they  had  been  made 
the  victims  of  a  practical  joke,  and  they  left  Girard  in  high 
dudgeon. 

"  And  now  to  think,  after  all  these  years  and  all  my  narrow 
escapes  by  field  and  flood,  I  am  sitting  here  quietly  in  the  twi 
light  of  advancing  years,  convinces  me  that  there  is  a  divinity 
that  shapes  our  ends.  It  seems  strange  that  here  at  Long  Branch 
under  such  peculiar,  quiet  circumstances,  after  years  of  struggles 
and  triumphs,  where  my  ancestry  lived  and  died,  I  should  have 
solved  the  greatest  of  problems,  the  secret  of  contentment." 

"HEY,  RUBE!"  THE  CRY. 

THE  OMINOUS  SLOGAN  OF  THE  OLD-TIME  CIRCUS  MEN — ALWAYS 
A  PRELUDE  TO  BATTLE — THE  CANVASMEN  WERE  FAMOUS 
FIGHTERS,  AND  WERE  EVER  READY  FOR  TROUBLE — TIMES 
HAVE  CHANGED  NOW,  AND  THE  CIRCUS  COMES  AND  GOEb 

IN   PEACE. 

The  circus  fight  is  not  what  it  used  to  be.  Canvasmen  have 
forgotten  the  traditions  of  their  younger  days,  and  it  is  no  un 
common  thing  for  the  whole  circus  to  go  into  a  town,  show  two  or 
three  times  and  then  gather  up  all  the  small  boys  and  some  of  the 
large  girls  and  go  on  to  the  next  town  without  having  once  heard 
the  cry  of  "  Hey,  Rube!  "  and  without  having  seen  or  heard  of 
a  single  fight. 

This  is  not  the  way  it  used  to  be.  Time  was  when  the  circus 
had  to  go  about  the  country  prepared  to  break  heads  as  well  as 
hearts,  and  while  the  dandies  of  the  company  were  making  havoc 


11EMIXISCENCES    OF    DAX    RICE  177 

with  the  flighty  young  women  who  semed  to  think  bareback 
riding  was  the  way  to  perfect  happiness,  the  other  men — the  ones 
whose  talent  lay  in  big  muscle  and  hard  lists — were  usually  busy 
in  leaving  their  print  on  the  noses  of  all  the  bullies  in  town. 
Older  men  of  to-day  will  remember  some  of  the  fights  back  in  the 
days  before  the  war,  when  it  really  looked  as  if  the  spirit  of  the 
country  had  developed  to  such  a  point  that  a  little  blood-letting 
was  necessary,  such  as  old  Zach  Chandler  had  said.  But  one  does 
not  need  to  go  back  to  antebellum  eras.  Circus  fights  continued 
clear  down  to  the  end  of  the  last  decade,  though  in  the  past  ten 
years  one  seems  to  notice  a  marked  falling  off  in  number  of 
fatalities. 

Showmen  themselves  used  to  keep  a  record  of  the  hard  towns, 
and  if  they  could  get  through  one  of  them  without  a  row  they 
felt  like  congratulating  themselves.  And  they  also  kept  a  list 
of  the  good  fighters,  and  when  the  show  season  came  along  these 
fellows  with  records  had  a  much  surer  chance  of  employment 
that  did  the  men  of  whom  the  boss  canvasmen  knew  nothing. 
Cohoes,  X.  Y.,  used  to  be  considered  one  of  the  hardest  towns  in 
the  country  for  a  circus.  It  was  a  town  that  paid  pretty  well 
if  the  show  got  through  at  all,  but  it  was  given  up  to  the  sluggers 
from  the  iron  works  on  show  days,  and  the  police  had  no  more 
control  over  affairs  than  if  they  had  never  been  born.  Oldtown, 
Me.,  was  another  bad  one,  providing  the  show  came  along  in  the 
spring  or  fall,  but  if  it  was  in  the  middle  of  the  season,  when 
the  men  were  either  in  the  woods  or  not  yet  come  up  from  the 
low^er  country,  then  the  fights  might  not  occur  at  all.  Paterson, 
X.  J.,  was  one  of  the  hardest  towns  on  the  continent  for  circus 
fights,  and  even  Champaign,  111.,  is  down  on  the  showman's  black- 
book  for  a  very  combative  name. 

Scranton,  Pa.,  and,  indeed,  every  coal  mining  or  iron  working 
district,  was  expected  to  furnish  a  fight  every  time  the  canvas 
was  raised  in  it.  And  it  might  surprise  some  people  to  know 
that  educational  centres  had  a  much  worse  name  for  this  species 
of  lawlessness  than  did  any  of  the  rude  districts  of  the  unlettered 
plains.  It  took  unnumbered  thumpings  for  the  men  at  Yale  to 
learn  they  could  not  successfully  lam  the  whole  travelling  out 
fit,  but  they  seemed  to  have  imbibed  wisdom  at  last.  Ann  Arbor, 
the  seat  of  the  Michigan  University,  was  one  of  the  last  to  learn 
the  same  salutary  lesson,  but  the  advent  of  the  railroad  show  and 
the  disbanding  of  the  companies  that  were  carried  about  the 
country  in  wagons  seemed  to  bring  some  degree  of  discretion 
even  to  these  young  men. 

Down  at  Jacksonville,  Tex.,  in  1873,  Robinson's  show  under 
took  to  exhibit  and  they  got  into  one  of  the  hardest  fights  on 
record.  The  battle  lasted  from  three  in  the  afternoon  till  mid- 
12 


178  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

night,  and  twenty-three  men  were  killed  and  more  than  fifty 
wounded.  At  Somerset,  Ky.,  in  1850,  Barnum's  show  ran  across 
a  very  bad  gang  of  railroad  men,  and  in  the  tight  which  followed, 
twenty  persons  were  killed,  among  them  several  women.  Fore- 
paugh's  men  got  into  a  row  with  roughs  in  Kentucky  once,  and 
before  it  ended  they  had  followed  him  for  three  days,  stopping 
his  show  in  that  many  towns. 

John  O'Brien,  who,  in  1873,  ran  the  best  circus  on  the  road, 
used  to  carry  what  they  called  the  Irish  Brigade.  They  were  a 
lot  of  men  who  seemed  to  be  hired  for  the  general  work  of  can- 
vasmen,  but  whose  duties  were  really  to  do  all  necessary  fighting. 
They  were  trained  in  it  from  the  toughest  parts  of  tough  cities, 
and  they  loved  a  row.  They  were  never  beaten,  and  when  they 
struck  a  gang  of  rowdies  they  always  wore  them  out  very 
promptly.  At  Quincy,  111.,  in  1872,  some  of  the  three-card- 
monte  men  and  thieves  who  always  go  with  a  show  if  they  can, 
robbed  a  boy,  and  a  negro  policeman  undertook  to  arrest  them. 
A  showman  came  to  the  assistance  of  the  sharpers,  and  a  row 
followed,  in  which  the  negro  was  killed.  The  local  militia  com 
pany  assisted  the  town  officers,  and  every  man  belonging  to  the 
circus  was  arrested.  In  the  trial  which  followed,  the  circus  man 
was  acquitted,  but  the  first  to  start  the  trouble  was  fined  $400  for 
assaulting  an  officer. 

In  every  one  of  these  cases  the  circus  men  go  along  together  as 
long  as  they  can  without  getting  whipped,  and  then  they  raise 
the  cry  "Hey,  Eube!  "  This  seems  to  be  a  slogan  which  calls 
to  the  asistance  of  the  man  making  it  all  the  men  in  the  show. 
It  is,  to  any  man  who  understands  it,  a  terrible  cry.  It  means 
as  no  other  expression  in  the  language  does,  that  a  fierce,  deadly 
fight  is  on,  that  men  who  are  far  away  from  home  must  band 
together  in  a  struggle  that  means  life  or  death  to  them,  and  that 
the  men  outside  who  have  incurred  their  enmity  must  expect 
every  inch  of  ground  to  be  bitterly  contested.  "Hey,  Eube!" 
is  the  battle  crv  of  the  showmen.  No  one  ever  raises  it  unless  he 
is  in  dire  straits,  and  when  once  heard  every  man  is  bound  by 
the  law  of  self-preservation  to  go  to  an  instant  relief.  The  cry 
was  raised  in  Montpelier  some  twenty-five  years  ago,  and  the 
fight  that  followed  was  so  severe  that  the  legislature  for  many 
years  refused  to  grant  circuses  a  license  in  Vermont. 

One  time  I  was  showing  in  a  Southern  town  when  my  tent 
was  blown  down.  The  roof  part  was  ruined,  so  I  had  to  show  the 
next  day  with  only  the  walls  up,  and  the  people  sat  there  in  the 
sun  and  had  a  good  time  until  two  drunken  loafers  insisted  on 
coming  in  without  paying,  and  then  a  bitter  fight  began,  ending 
in  the  killing  of  four  men  and  the  serious  wounding  of  many 
more.  Along  in  the  sixties  Yankee  Robinson  and  Frank  Howe's 


KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    1UCE  179 

shows  struck  an  Iowa  town  on  the  same  day,  and  as  many  of  the 
showmen  had  friends  in  the  other  party,  all  got  together  and 
had  one  of  the  wildest  times  on  record.  They  took  the  whole 
town,  and  when  the  marshal  undertook  to  make  an  arrest,  he 
was  knocked  down  and  a  riot  followed.  The  State  militia  had 
to  be  called  out  to  quell  the  disturbance,  but  before  it  did  so 
several  men  were  killed  on  both  sides.  In  1881  W.  C.  Coup's 
show  was  giving  an  exhibition  at  Cartersville,  Ga.,  when  the 
town  marshal  hit  one  of  the  hands  over  the  head,  and  in  the  row 
that  followed,  three  men  were  killed  and  three  more  crippled  for 
life. 

Showmen  who  tell  about  these  things  always  lay  the  blame  on 
the  bad  men  of  the  town  or  neighborhood  where  the  trouble 
occurs,  or  on  too  officious  peace  officers  who  try  to  exercise  all 
their  authority  in  a  minute.  But  it  often  happens  that  the  show 
men  are  themselves  to  blame.  Sharpers  and  gamblers  of  various 
descriptions  travelled  with  the  circus  and  kept  in  the  favor  of 
the  fighters  with  the  show  by  giving  them  a  share  of  the  money 
they  would  take  from  the  countrymen.  When  the  fleeced  native 
would  insist  on  the  return  of  his  money,  he  would  be  met  with 
the  whole  fighting  force  of  the  company.  It  often  happens,  too, 
that  men  not  really  in  the  employ  of  the  show  owners  remain  with 
it  for  months  at  a  time  and  are  fruitful  of  nothing  but  trouble. 

Of  late  years  the  big  shows  that  chiefly  go  to  large  cities  have 
had  more  peaceful  experiences,  and  the  fight  that  turns  out  a  riot 
is  fast  becoming  one  of  the  things  obsolete.  The  cry  of  "  Hey, 
Eube!  "  is  falling  into  such  disuse  that  in  a  few  years  the  younger 
showmen  will  have  to  carry  a  lexicon  along  to  tell  them  what  the 
time-honored  old  cry  used  to  mean. 

THE  CIRCUS  OF  THE  FUTURE. 

BY  DAN  KICE. 

An  old  saw,  which  everybody  has  heard,  says  that  history  al 
ways  repeats  itself.  The  saying  can  be  applied  just  now  to  the 
circus  business.  For  the  circus  business,  like  history,  is  about  to 
repeat  itself. 

Fifty  years  ago  a  circus  was  designed  to  amuse.  It  was  not 
like  the  circus  of  the  present,  meant  to  amaze  by  its  glittering 
profusion.  An  old-time  circus  comprised  an  aggregation  of  solid 
merit.  There  was  then  but  one  performing  ring,  and  everything 
that  went  on  in  it  was  critically  watched.  The  pretty  lady  bare 
back  rider,  the  gymnasts,  and  even  the  clown  all  had  to  be  at  the 
top  of  their  profession  to  be  worthy  of  an  engagement. 

But  in  the  circus  of  the  present,  mediocrity  reigns.     It  is  now 


180  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

the  fashion  to  have  three  performing  rings,  in  each  of  which 
there  are  simultaneous  performances.  No  person  can  watch  three 
rings  at  a  time,  and  the  circus  managers,  with  the  present  system 
of  gigantic  aggregations,  can  engage  some  really  good  performers, 
and  can  fill  in  the  picture  with  other  cheaper  talent,  and  few  in 
an  audience  can  be  the  wiser. 

Glitter,  gaudy  costumes,  clowns  with  no  wit,  but  with  a  physi 
cal  aptitude  for  falling  over  a  ring,  and  thus,  by  buffoonery,  rais 
ing  a  laugh,  make  up  the  circus  of  the  present. 

But  the  people  are  becoming  weary  of  this  false  presentation 
of  a  circus,  and  in  the  circus  of  the  near  future  there  will  be  a 
decided  return  to  the  good  old  days  of  a  one-ring  circus,  and  the 
best  talent  that  a  manager  can  procure  will  be  a  necessity,  not 
an  incidental,  as  at  present.  This  movement  is  already  in  the 
air,  and  next  year  there  will  be  several  of  the  old-time  shows, 
which,  to  the  present  generation  of  yuung  circus  lovers,  are  new. 

The  first  two-ring  circus  that  ever  was  formed  was  that  of  the 
Great  Eastern  Aggregation,  of  which  George  W.  De  Haven,  in 
1866,  was  the  manager.  Then  came  P.  T.  Barnum  and  his  triple- 
ring  combination,  and  since  then  until  the  past  year  no  one  has 
dared  to  take  a  proper  step  and  make  a  one-ring  first-class  circus  a 
success. 

But  from  the  patronage  accorded  my  present  one-ring  show  I 
am  convinced  that  the  future  circus  is  to  be  a  revival  of  the  old- 
time  aggregation. 

There  is  one  phase  of  this  revival  that  will  affect  the  pockets 
of  the  bright  young  actors  who  now  act  so  cleverly  in  farce- 
comedies.  With  the  revival  there  will  be  a  demand  for  clowns 
who  have  humor  and  spontaneous  wit. 

With  the  death  of  Charley  White,  not  long  since,  the  best  of 
the  old-time  clowns  passed  away,  and  the  clever  young  farce- 
comedy  men  will  have  a  new  field  each  summer  open  to  them  in 
the  revival,  for  there  will  be  a  great  demand  for  clowns  to  take 
the  places  of  the  old-timers  who  have  passed  into  the  great  here 
after. 

GEEAT  LIGHTS  OF  THE  CIKCUS.— ONE  DOLLAE 
A  MINUTE. 

"  The  greatest  circus  clown  I  ever  met  was  Joe  Blackburn,  of 
Kentucky.  He  was  in  some  way  related  to  the  late  eminent 
Senator  from  that  State,  was  a  man  of  education,  a  gentleman, 
and  brave  as  a  lion.  He  was  buried  in  Maysville,  Ky.,  some  time 
in  1843.  It  was  for  many  years  a  custom  among  circus  men 
whenever  they  visited  Maysville,  to  take  their  bands  and  play  a 
dirge  at  Joe  Blackburn's  grave." 


KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE  181 

"And  the  best  voltigeur,  who?" 

"  Mose  Lipman,  who  is  yet  alive  in  Cincinnati.  He  is  on  record 
as  having  turned  sixty-seven  somersaults  in  succession.  Jno.  L. 
Aymar,  one  of  four  brothers,  was  another  noted  vaulter.  He 
broke  his  neck  in  London,  at  Astley's,  trying  to  turn  a  triple 
somersault. 

"  The  greatest  bareback  riders  I  ever  knew  were  Jim  Robinson 
and  Will  Showles.  In  New  York,  in  a  little  alley  running  off  the 
Bowery,  was  born  Michael  Fitzgerald.  He  was  apprenticed  to 
John  Gossin,  a  famous  clown.  Some  time  in  the  year  1846  Mike 
was  transferred,  for  a  consideration,  to  James  Robinson,  and 
taking  his  name  rendered  it  doubly  distinguished  in  circus  an 
nals.  Robinson  was  certainly  a  splendid  rider,  but  William 
Showles,  whose  father  and  mother  are  residents  of  Long  Branch, 
is,  in  my  opinion,  the  greatest  bareback  rider  in  the  world.  Oh, 
yes,  Jimmy  Robinson  is  still  riding,  though  he  must  be  over  fifty 
years  old. 

"  The  greatest  American  equestrienne  undoubtedly  was  Kate 
Stokes,  former  wife  of  the  late  John  Stetson.  The  whole  family 
were  very  talented.  The  father  was  one  of  the  best  riding  mas 
ters  known.  One  sister  married  J.  B.  Doris,  the  circus  manager. 
A  young  sister,  Bella  Stokes,  is  a  charming  actress." 

"  And  the  best  horse  trainer?  " 

"  S.  Q.  Stokes,  of  Kentucky.  He  it  was  who  imposed  e  Ella 
Zo}^ara  7  upon  the  world.  '  Ella's  '  real  name  was  Omar  Kingsley. 
He  was  born  in  St.  Louis,  and  being  quite  effeminate  in  appear 
ance,  used  to  do  female  acts  for  Stokes.  Omar  liked  the  assump 
tion  well,  and  stuck  to  it;  wore  female  clothes  in  the  streets;  In 
Germany  he  associated  entirely  with  ladies,  some  of  them  per 
sons  of  social  distinction,  and  was  everywhere  received  and 
treated  as  one  of  the  softer  sex.  When  the  deception  was  first 
found  out  in  Europe,  Stokes  narrowly  escaped  with  his  life.  One 
old  Baron,  or  Barren — means  the  same  thing  in  his  case — who 
had  offered  '  Ella  '  his  hand  in  marriage,  was  so  enraged  when 
he  discovered  the  imposture,  that  he  threatened  to  kill  Stokes 
on  sight.  Stokes  didn't  seem  to  scare  much,  but  he  returned  to 
America  quicker,  'tis  said,  than  he  had  at  first  intended  doing. 

"  Frank  H.  Rosston  has  been  praised  as  the  best  of  ring 
masters,  and  the  distinction  was  deserved.  He  was  a  journeyman 
tailor  in  Philadelphia,  and  after  joining  the  circus,  which  he  did, 
I  think,  at  my  suggestion,  developed  into  the  most  graceful,  ac 
complished,  and  impressive  ringmaster  in  the  business. 

"  The  highest  salary  I  ever  received  was  one  dollar  a  minute. 
Alvah  Man  of  the  National  Theatre,  in  Philadelphia,  paid  it 
to  me." 


182  REMINISCENCES  OF  DAN  RICE 


A  MILLIONAIRE   SHOWMAN". 

BARIUM  WAS  BY  NO  MEANS  THE  WEALTHIEST  CIRCUS  MAN — 
UNCLE  DAN  RICE  TALKS  ENTERTAININGLY  ABOUT  SETH 
B.  HOWES,,  WHO  HAS  ROLLED  UP  TWENTY  MILLIONS  AS 
HIS  PROFITS  FROM  THE  SAWDUST  RING. 

"  I  regard  Seth  B.  Howes  as  one  of  the  most  famous  show 
men  the  world  has  ever  known.  Barnum?  Why,  Barnum  was 
nowhere  in  comparison.  In  business  ability  and  enterprise,  the 
two  things  Barnum  was  most  noted  for,  this  man  I  am  telling 

you  of  was  far  and  away  his  superior.  Wrhy,  B ,  well,  Barnum 

is  dead,  so  we  won't  try  to  belittle  him,  but  my  man  is  alive  and 
hearty.  Barnum  left  a  couple  of  millions  or  so;  this  man  lives 
and  enjoys  twenty  millions  or  more,  and  all  made  out  of  the  show 
business. 

"  Seth  B.  Howes  is  now  retired  from  business  and  living  very 
quietly  at  Brewster's,  N.  Y.,  where  many  years  ago  he  built  him 
self  a  substantial  country  house  on  the  very  spot  where  he  was 
born.  Where  the  onion  bed  was  that  he  used  to  have  to  weed 
as  a  boy,  he  now  has  his  greenhouse,  and  grows  orchids,  I  suppose 
one  single  root  of  which  may  be  worth  more  than  the  whole  bed 
of  onions  of  the  days  gone  by.  You  will  see  him  occasionally 
at  the  Murray  Hill  Hotel,  a  quiet,  win7-built  old  gentleman  of 
seventy-seven,  with  white  mustache  and  no  stuck-up  airs  about 
him.  In  fact,  3^011  would  take  him  for  a  parson  rather  than  a 
showman. 

"  His  wife  was  generally  with  him,  as  she  has  been  ever  since 
they  were  married.  She  is  a  handsome,  queenly  Englishwoman, 
very  much  his  junior.  I  remember  them  in  the  sixties  when 
they  travelled  with  the  show.  Although  she  is  a  thoroughly 
well-bred  woman  and  wealthy  in  her  own  right,  in  addition  to 
the  large  amount  her  husband  had  scraped  together,  both  she 
and  the  old  man  went  about  from  town  to  town  with  just  a  little 
handbag  apiece.  That  shows  the  kind  of  life  partner  she  is. 

"  It  was  a  wonder  to  everybody  that  Howes  got  married  at  all; 
it  was  still  a  greater  wonder  that  he  managed  to  capture  a  woman 
in  herself  charming  and  so  well  up  in  the  world  of  London.  The 
marriage  took  place  in  1861.  Howes  was  then  thirty-six  years  of 
age  and  had  shown  no  disposition  for  women's  society  whatever, 
or  for  scarcely  any  other  society,  so  to  speak.  He  was  all  business, 
and  seemed  to  think  of  nothing  else.  But  among  bankers  and 
business  men  he  had  already  earned  a  reputation  for  ability  and 
wealth,  and  it  was  in  just  such  society  that  he  met  Miss  Amy 
Mosely.  Her  father  was  a  London  merchant  and  she  had  many 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  183 

suitors.  She  not  only  chose  him  from  among  them  all,  but  im 
mediately  adapted  herself  to  his  life.  She  was  born  a  business 
woman  and  it  was  not  long  before  she  was  running  one  of  her 
husband's  two  great  shows  in  England. 

"  Howes  comes  from  a  family  of  showmen,  the  leaders  of  the 
profession  in  this  country.  His  brother,,  Xathan  A.  Howes,  in 
partnership  with  Aaron  Turner,  of  Danbury,  Conn.,  started  a 
circus  from  Brewster's  in  1826.  Seth  was  working  on  his 
brother's  farm  at  the  time,  but  two  years  later  he  joined  the 
show.  He  became  a  partner  in  1831,  Richard  Sands  having 
taken  the  place  of  Turner  in  the  firm.  They  had  good  success 
for  seven  years,  when  the  company  disbanded. 

"'  I  made  my  debut  under  Seth  Howes'  management.  That 
was  in  1845,  at  Palmer's  Opera  House,  on  Chambers  Street. 
Madame  McCarte  was  another  of  the  stars.  The  partnership 
consisted  of  Howes  and  the  brothers  Edmund  and  Jeremiah 
Mabie,  and  it  began  business  in  1810  and  continued  for  eight 
years.  I  was  with  the  show  for  two  years,  yet  never  knew  until 
after  that  Howes  had  anything  to  do  with  it,  so  close  was  he 
about  all  his  business  affairs.  He  was  the  shrewdest  circus  man 
who  was  ever  on  the  road. 

"  About  this  time  he  saw  that  Barnum  was  making  quite  a 
name,  so  he  joined  him.  Then  he  inflated  Barnum's  head  into  a 
belief  that  a  show  travelling  around  the  country  would  advertise 
his  museum,  which,  you  will  remember,  was  on  the  corner  where 
the  '  St.  Paul '  building  now  stands.  So  the  i  Barnum  Exposi 
tion  on  Wheels '  was  started,  and  Howes  carried  it  all  through 
the  country.  He  was  supposed  to  have  agents  all  over  the 
world  searching  for  and  importing  to  the  show  the  most  wonder 
ful  animals  that  ever  existed.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  he  bought  all 
the  animals  in  this  country;  but  even  Barnum  did  not  know  this 
until  long  after.  However,  during  the  five  years  he  ran  the  show 
he  made  Barnum  money,  so  that  did  not  signify. 

"  During  this  time  he  was  figuring  on  a  circus  of  his  own  in 
New  York,  and  two  years  before  he  separated  from  Barnum, 
which  was  in  1855,  he  opened  the  Franconies  Hippodrome,  which 
was  on  the  site  of  the  Fifth  Avenue  Hotel.  In  1854  I  paid  him 
$5,000  for  the  elephant  '  Lalla  Eookh,'  and  went  to  Boston  with 
his  partner,  Gushing.  '  Lalla  Rookh  '  was  a  wonderful  elephant, 
the  most  wonderful  that  ever  lived.  She  used  to  perform  on  the 
tight-rope.  Poor  thing;  she  went  bathing  in  the  river  in  Indi 
ana  on  a  Sunday,  took  cold  and  died. 

"  Well,  after  that  I  sold  Mr.  Howes  my  trick  nmles  for  $5,000, 
and  he  bought  them  without  ever  having  seen  them  perform.  He 
wa?  a  man  of  wonderful  enterprise.  In  March,  1857,  Howes  £ 
Cushing's  Circus  left  here  for  England.  No,  that  was  not  the 


184  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    EICE 

first  American  show  that  went  to  Europe.  I  think  the  first  was  in 
1842,  owned  by  Juan  Titus  and  Angevine.  That  was  the  first 
to  compete  with  WombwelPs  Menagerie,  then  and  for  many  years 
after  an  institution  without  which  no  English  country  fair  was 
complete. 

"  Howes  &  Cushing's  Circus  had  a  great  success  in  England 
from  the  start.  They  took  over  with  them  seventy-two  horses 
and  fifty  performers  and  assistants.  They  travelled  through 
England  for  a  year,  and  then  opened  at  the  Alhambra  Palace, 
London,  where  Queen  Victoria  and  the  royal  family  honored 
t1  em  with  a  visit.  That  was  in  1858.  They  were  at  the  Palace 
twelve  months,  and  then  tented  it  through  England  and  Ireland 
for  four  or  five  years,  during  which,  as  1  told  you,  Howes  man 
aged  to  pick  up  his  estimable  life  partner. 

"  They  brought  the  circus  back  to  NCAV  York  in  1864,  after 
having  made  barrels  of  money.  Why,  at  one  time  Howes  offered 
me  $100,000  for  my  blind  horse,  the  most  intelligent  animal 
and  the  most  marvellous  performer  there  ever  was.  Understood 
every  word  spoken  to  him.  Howes'  idea  was  to  put  him  on  the 
stage.  That  was  my  mistake.  That  horse  ought  never  to  have 
gone  into  a  ring.  He  was  good  enough  to  play  all  by  himself. 

"  I  joined  Howes'  Circus  at  Mobile  in  1865.  In  1845  he  paid 
me  $50  a  week;  in  1865  he  paid  me  $1,000.  He  called  the  show 
Howes  &  Cushing's  London  Circus,  and  everywhere  he  went  we 
gathered  in  the  dollars  rapidly.  I  suppose  the  old  man  was  get 
ting  to  think  he  had  made  as  much  money  as  he  cared  for,  for  in 
1870  he  sold  the  business  to  James  Kelley  and  Egbert  C.  Howes, 
and  retired.  But  for  all  his  wealth  he  was  never  boastful;  on  the 
contrary.  If  you  chanced  to  say  to  him,  '  Splendid  house  to 
night!  '  he  would  slowly  reply,  '  Well,  yes,  it  will  just  about  pay 
expenses.'  He  was  liberal,  though,  without  being  a  fool  with  his 
money." 

JAMES    A.     BAILEY. 

The  subject  of  the  present  brief  sketch  was  born  in  the  city 
of  Detroit,  in  1847,  and  at  the  unusually  tender  age  of  ten  years 
gave  unmistakable  evidence  of  the  possession  of  those  rare  talents 
and  energy  that  later  in  life  so  markedly  distinguished  him  above 
all  his  contemporaries.  When  at  that  early  age  he  determined 
upon  leaving  home  and  seeking  his  fortune,  he  sacrificed  a  com 
fortable  home  and  surroundings,  for,  although  his  parents  were 
not  what  would  be  called  to-day  wealthy,  they  were  well-to-do, 
and  at  the  death  of  his  father,  in  1853,  his  mother  was  left  in 
possession  of  a  modest  competency.  His  mother's  death  occur 
ring,  however,  shortly  after,  and  upon  his  brother-in-law  being 
appointed  his  guardian  his  dislike  for  the  inactive  life  he  was 


. 


JAMES    A.    BAILEY 


IIEMIXISCEXCEb    OF    DAN    EICE  185 

leading  caused  him  to  hurriedly  put  into  practice  the  ideas  he 
had  formed  o±  "  going  it  alone  "  on  the  road  of  life.  First  turn 
ing  his  thoughts  to  the  country  upon  leaving  home,  young 
Bailey  sought  the  country  and  found  employment  on  a  farm  at 
the  munificent  salary  of  $3  per  month,  but  this  existence  after  a 
few  months  proved  too  tame  for  his  youthful  aspirations.  He 
forsook  it  and  made  his  way  to  the  city  of  Pontiac,  Mich.,  and 
secured  a  position  in  the  leading  hotel  there  as  a  bell-boy.  There 
was  one  important  factor  determining  this  move,  that  should  not 
be  overlooked,  as  it  serves  to  show  the  pluck  and  spirit  of  the 
boy,  qualities  that  afterwards  entered  so  largely  into  making  him 
successful  as  a  man,  enabling  him  to  meet  and  overcome  what  to 
many  others  would  have  proved  insurmountable  difficulties. 
There  was  another  boy  on  the  farm  whose  salary  was  $3.50  per 
month,  half  a  dollar  more  than  young  Bailey  received,  and  as  the 
latter,  although  in  receipt  of  less  money,  was  conscientiously  per 
forming  his  duties  and  earnestly  working  more  than  the  other 
boy,  it  naturally  engendered  a  spirit  of  rebellion  against  such 
discriminations,  and  as  his  employer  could  not  appreciate,  or  did 
not,  the  hardest  worker,  the  latter  thought  he  would  remedy  .the 
matter  himself,  and  did  so,  by  first  thrashing  the  boy,  and  then 
leaving  the  farm. 

It  can  be  readily  understood  that  out  of  his  salary  he  would 
not  have  a  fortune  saved  up,  so,  with  a  light  heart,  a  quick  step, 
and  fifty  cents  he  sought  the  hotel  in  Pontiac,  Mich.  While  en 
gaged  in  the  hotel  his  general  cleverness,  sincere  attention  to 
duty,  and  alertness  attracted  the  attention  of  the  proprietor  as 
well  as  the  guests  of  the  hotel,  so  it  came  to  pass  that  when  the 
agent  of  the  Robinson  &  Lake  Circus  came  to  Pontiac,  he  also 
noticed  the  smartness  of  the  boy,  and  was  so  impressed  with  it 
that  he  induced  young  Bailey  to  go  with  him.  From  this  period 
dates  the  career  of  one  who  subsequently  became  what  he  is  to 
day,  the  leader  of  showmen,  and  virtual  dictator  in  that  line  of 
amusements.  His  career  from  this  time  on  was  a  checkered  one, 
rising,  however,  very  rapidly  in  the  estimation  of  all  those  with 
whom  he  became  associated.  Remaining  with  the  circus  until 
18()3,  he  left  it  to  take  the  position  of  advertising  agent  in  a  thea 
tre  in  Nashville,  where,  besides  attending  to  his  regular  duties,  he 
assisted  the  manager,  and  at  night  acted  as  usher.  This  was  dur 
ing  the  war,  when  salaries  were  small  and  living  expenses  high. 
While  here  one  night,  a  Mr.  Green,  holding  the  position  of 
Fnited  States  sutler,  happened  in  the  theatre  with  a  friend,  and 
finding  the  house  crowded,  with  few,  if  any,  seats  unoccupied, 
in  his  desire  to  obtain  good  seats  applied  to  Mr.  Bailey,  who,  at 
no  little  personal  trouble,  finally  secured  them.  For  this  cour 
teous  service  a  $5  bill  was  quietly  slipped  into  his  hand  by  Mr. 


186  HEMIN1SCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

Green,  but  it  was  instantly  returned  with  thanks  "by  young 
Bailey,  who  accompanied  the  action  with  the  remark,  u  I  am 
amply  paid  by  the  house  for  courteously  treating  its  patrons  and 
cannot  accept  your  generosity/'  Mr.  Green  was  so  struck  by 
this  conduct  that  he  instigated  inquiries  concerning  so  remark 
able  a  young  man,  which  resulted  in  his  offering  him  employment 
with  him  at  double  the  salary  he  was  then  receiving.  So  our 
hero  became  the  trusted  clerk  of  an  army  sutler,  and  during  his 
engagement  was  witness  of  all  the  battles  of  the  war  occurring 
between  Chattanooga  and  Atlanta.  At  the  close  of  the  hostili 
ties,  being  sent  in  charge  of  his  employer's  goods  to  Louisville, 
and  finishing  all  the  business  entrusted  to  him,  he  went  for 
a  few  days  to  Cincinnati,  where  he  accidentally  again  met 
Mr.  Lake,  his  old  circus  employer,  who  exacted  a  promise 
from  him  to  again  enter  that  line  of  business.  When  Mr.  Green 
learned  of  this  he  felt  great  regret  at  having  to  part  with  his 
trusted  clerk  and  tried  hard  to  get  him  to  remain  with  him,  but 
as  a  promise  had  been  given,  it  was  useless,  so  the  following  year 
saw  young  Bailey  back  again  in  the  show  business,  where  he  re 
mained  until  1869.  The  following  year  Mr.  Bailey  became  in 
terested  in  the  privileges  with  Hemmings,  Cooper  &  Whitby's 
Show.  When  the  firm  of  Hemmings  &  Cooper  was  changed  in 
1871,  Mr.  Bailey  was  offered,  and  accepted,  a  position  with  them 
as  general  agent,  remaining  such  until  Mr.  J.  E.  Cooper  formed  a 
new  firm  in  1872  with  Mr.  Bailey  as  his  partner,  the  new  firm 
being  known  as  Cooper  &  Bailey.  We  now  see  Mr.  Bailey  as  a 
proprietor,  a  proud  position  and  one  earned  by  himself  without 
either  capital  or  aid  other  than  the  possession  of  talent,  but  whose 
qualities  and  abilities  were  of  such  a  high  order  that  he  was  in 
demand  everywhere,  but  it  remained  for  Mr.  Cooper  to  put  the 
highest  value  upon  them  and  to  secure  him,  offering  him  half  in 
terest  in  the  show  to  remain.  It  was  now  his  talents  were  devel 
oped  as  an  advertiser,  and  he  showed  the  remarkable  power 
of  his  now  maturer  judgment  and  riper  years,  with  the  venture 
some  spirit  that  so  conspicuously  distinguishes  him  even  at  pres 
ent.  He  projected  and  successfully  carried  out  a  tour  of  the 
world  with  trie  Cooper  &  Bailey  Show  in  1876-77,  visiting  the 
Sandwich  Islands,  Australia,  New  Zealand,  India,  and  South 
America,  with  varying  financial  success,  returning  to  this  coun 
try  in  December,  1878,  after  that  extraordinary  trip,  just  in  time 
to  purchase  the  Great  London  Circus.  With  this  latest  addi 
tion  the  Cooper  &  Bailey  Show  became  the  largest,  as  it  was  the 
finest,  of  all  tented  shows  up  to  that  time,  and  the  birth  of  a 
baby  elephant,  the  first  ever  born  in  captivity  in  the  world,  so 
increased  the  reputation  of  the  show  and  added  to  its  attractions, 
that  Mr.  Bailey  at  once  determined  upon  striking  a  blow  that 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAX    BICE  187 

would  place  his  show  so  far  beyond  all  others  that  there  would 
really  be  but  one.  How  well  he  planned  is  best  evidenced  by 
subsequent  events.  The  late  P.  T.  Barnum  was  then  at  the  head 
of  the  business.  Mr.  Bailey  "  went  for  him  "  in  the  language  of 
the  day,  and  fought  him  so  vigorously,  determinedly,  and  ad 
ministered  such  hard  knocks,  that  he  forced  the  Barnum  show 
to  fly,  giving  up  its  favorite  territory  in  the  East,  thus  leaving 
that  valuable  section  to  the  Cooper  &  Bailey  Circus.  Next  sea 
son  (1884),  with  the  shrewdness  that  characterized  Mr.  Barnum, 
he  sought  Mr.  Bailey  and  made  him  an  offer  of  partnership.  As 
he  could  not  compete  with  the  London  Circus,  Mr.  Barnum  de 
sired  to  be  associated  with  it  and  its  manager,  and  the  negotia 
tions  resulted  in  the  grand  combination  known  as  the  Barnum 
and  London  Shows,  of  which  Mr.  Bailey  was  the  sole  manager. 
From  this  time  out  Mr.  Barnum  ceased  to  take  any  more  active 
part  in  the  circus  business  than  to  aid  with  his  money  the  carry 
ing  out  of  the  projects  emanating  in  the  fertile  brain  of  his  young 
partner,  and  it  is  a  fact,  not  known  to  the  public,  however,  that  all 
the  vast  details  of  the  business  of  whatever  kind  or  description  re 
lating  to  the  combined  shows  were  transacted  by  Mr.  Bailey  alone, 
just  as  he  does  to-day,  and  it  is  hoped  by  all  his  friends  he  will 
continue  to  do  so  for  many  years  to  come.  Ever  since  Mr. 
Bailey  assumed  a  proprietary  interest  in  the  circus,  it  is  worthy  of 
note,  that  he  has  striven  with  great  zeal  to  elevate  the  business; 
has  sought  with  dogged  pertinacity  to  eliminate  everything  of  an 
offending  character,  correcting  abuses  when  any  existed,  remedy 
ing  defects,  altering,  improving,  and  finally  cleansing  and  clarify 
ing  the  whole  until  the  great  institution  of  to-day,  known  as  the 
"  Greatest  Show  on  Earth,"  with  its  thousand  employees,  stands 
a  monument  to  the  genius  and  extraordinary  ability  of  one  man 
and  that  one  J.  A.  Bailey — an  institution  of  such  high  and  com 
mercial  character  that  its  checks  are  equal  to  legal-tender  notes, 
whose  business  methods  are  the  best  known  and  whose  standing 
and  reputation  in  the  business  world  are  second  to  none,  sound 
principles  governing  all.  .It  was  this  grand  show  Mr.  Bailey 
organized  and  sent  to  Europe  in  1899,  and  for  the  past  two  years 
has  amazed  the  people,  the  sovereigns,  and  nobility  by  its  mag 
nitude  and  magnificence. 

WALLETT. 

Win.  Frederick  Wallett,  the  Queen's  Jester,  was  the  greatest 
clown  England  ever  produced.  Unlike  many  other  professionals, 
he  bore  his  real  name,  and  it  is  a  name  such  as  he  had  a  right  to  be 
1  roud  of.  He  appeared  in  almost  every  land  where  the  English 
language  was  spoken,  and  in  many  places  where  it  is  not,  and  he 
made  friends  wherever  he  appeared.  He  made  his  first  public 


188  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

appearance  at  Hull,  his  native  town,  where  he  played  a  sub 
ordinate  part  at  the  Theatre  Royal.  Since  then  his  life  has 
been  one  continued  series  of  professional  triumphs.  Wallett  was 
never  a  buffoon.  He  was  a  jester  of  the  old-time  school.  His 
contagious  fun  had  been  of  a  pure  character  which  left  a  healthy 
palate  behind.  He  made  his  first  success  professionally  in  con 
junction  with  Van  Amburgh,  and  subsequently  added  to  his  fame 
and  fortune  in  identifying  himself  with  my  American  enterprises. 
In  the  theatre  as  a  pantomimist,  and  the  circus  as  a  jester,  he 
conclusively  demonstrated  that  a  man  may  be  a  clown  and  yet  a 
gentleman — a  jester  and  yet  a  philosopher.  Wallett  was  also  an 
author,  who  has  written  a  most  entertaining  autobiography.  His 
passing  away  lately  has  left  me  pretty  much,  in  the  circus  world, 
like  the  last  man  of  the  club — I  call  the  roll,  and  none  answers 
but  myself. 

BLONDIN. 

One  of  the  most  daring  athletes  and  original  performers  of 
the  century  passed  away  a  few  years  ago  in  England  at  the  age  of 
seventy-three.  Blondin,  whose  real  name  was  Jean  Frangois 
Gravelet,  was  a  native  of  Xorthern  France,  and  son  of  a  gymnast 
who  had  served  under  Napoleon.  Forty  years  ago  Americans 
discovered  that  the  king  of  rope  walkers  and  equilibrists  had  ar 
rived  in  this  country  as  one  of  the  attractions  of  the  Ravels. 
Blondin  was  rather  a  small  man,  but  of  square  build;  well,  but 
not  excessively,  muscled,  and  with  a  look  of  middle  age  rather 
than  of  youth.  His  feats  placed  him  in  a  class  of  his  own  and  he 
never  had  a  real  rival.  Walking  a  rope  was  to  him  like  walking 
a  floor,  and  he  seldom  used  a  pole.  Empty-handed,  he  turned 
somersaults  backward  and  forward  on  the  rope,  landing  on  his 
feet,  displaying  more  than  the  agility  of  a  cat.  He  walked  the 
rope  on  stilts  and  went  through  vaulting  evolutions  upon  it  with 
a  basket  on  each  foot. 

It  did  not  take  the  public  long  to  discover  that  this  serious- 
faced  Frenchman  was  a  phenomenon,  and  he  was  a  favorite  for 
many  successive  seasons.  He  became  much  attached  to  America 
and  looked  around  for  new  opportunities  to  inspire  wonder, 
though  he  was  always  able  to  execute  a  hundred  feats  that  nobody 
else  could  touch.  In  the  course  of  his  travels  he  reached  Xiagara 
Falls  and  saw  as  much  that  interested  him  in  the  gorge  and  whirl 
pool  as  in  the  waters  of  the  great  lakes  tumbling  over  a  precipice. 
He  had  never  before  run  across  such  a  fine  set  of  scenery  for  an 
equilibrist.  The  idea  of  walking  above  the  thundering  cataract 
on  a  bridge  of  rope  never  left  him.  It  awoke  him  in  terrified 
dreams  and  yet  fascinated  him  the  more.  At  the  close  of  1858 
he  resided  at  the  falls  for  several  weeks  to  study  the  ground. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  189 

Then  he  told  the  world  that  he  proposed  to  stretch  a  rope  1,100 
feet  long,  170  feet  above  the  torrent,  and  walk  across.  He  kept 
his  word  June  30,  1859,  in  the  presence  of  50,000  spectators. 
Later,  he  crossed  blindfolded,  with  a  man  on  his  back  and  made 
sensational  rope-walking  one  of  the  marvels  of  the  time. 

The  feat  which  tried  his  nerves  the  most,  according  to  his  own 
statement,  was  trundling  his  infant  daughter  in  a  wheelbarrow 
over  a  rope  200  feet  long  at  the  Crystal  Palace,  London,  and  he 
confessed  he  would  not  have  undertaken  it  if  his  wife  had  not 
strengthened  his  confidence  by  her  own.  Ordinarily,  Blondin  had 
no  nerves  and  was  proof  against  a  false  motion.  He  was  very 
careful  in  personal  habits  and  never  touched  even  the  lightest 
wines.  His  only  beverage  was  chocolate.  Sometimes  his  at 
tendants  blundered,  or  the  rope  was  disturbed  by  accident,  but 
he  had  a  code  for  avoiding  a  fall  by  hooking  a  leg  on  the  rope. 
He  took  a  young  lion  in  a  wheelbarrow  partly  across  a  high  rope 
at  Liverpool  on  a  Avindy  day,  and  then,  finding  the  brakes  de 
ranged,  backed  to  the  starting  point.  Of  course  he  persevered 
until  he  carried  the  feat  through,  for  that  was  one  of  his  charac 
teristics.  Blondin  said  that  when  he  first  started  up  a  rope  in 
boyhood  it  seemed  as  easy  to  him  as  walking  on  a  plank.  He 
stuck  to  the  rope  for  over  fifty  years,  made  an  immense  aggregate 
of  money,  and  died  with  sound  bones  at  a  good  old  age.  There 
is  no  way  to  explain  the  man  except  to  say  that  he  was  Blondin. 

GRAXT— JOimSOX. 

SOME  STARTLING  REVELATIONS  BY  THE  "  CLOWN  OF  OUR 
DADDIES*' — COL.  DAN  RICE  ON  THE  CAUSES  WHICH  LED 
TO  THE  IMPEACHMENT  OF  JOHNSON — GRANT  THE  UNSUS 
PECTING  DUPE  OF  DESIGNING  MEN — JOHNSON'S  UNION 
RECORD. 

Col.  Dan  Rice  was  an  intimate  personal  friend  of  Henry  Clay, 
Presidents  Lincoln  and  Johnson,  and  knew  General  Grant  per 
haps  as  well  as  he  was  known  by  any  man.  During  the  days  of 
reconstruction  he  was  a  United  States  detective,  having  been  ap 
pointed  by  President  Johnson  to  protect  the  interests  of  the 
Government  and  the  cotton  raisers  of  the  South  against  the  dis 
honesty  of  Government  agents.  Colonel  Rice  was  in  Washing 
ton  at  the  time  of  Johnson's  inauguration,  and  for  some  time 
after. 

Recalling  the  circumstances  leading  up  to  the  breach  between 
President  Johnson  and  those  who  afterwards  sought  his  impeach 
ment,  Colonel  Rice  says: 


190  KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

"  A  few  days  after  the  inauguration  of  Johnson,  while  I  was  at 
the  White  House  in  conversation  with  the  President,  Col.  John 
W.  Forney,,  of  Philadelphia,  sent  in  his  card.  Colonel  Forney 
was  well  known  as  an  ardent  admirer  and  stanch  supporter  of 
Johnson,  having  been  intimately  associated  with  him  during  the 
events  attending  his  accession  to  the  Presidency.  I  retired  to 
an  adjoining  room  occupied  by  Colonel  Moore,  the  President's 
private  secretary,  where  I  heard,  distinctly,  the  conversation 
between  Colonel  Forney  and  the  President.  Forney  presented 
to  the  President  a  list  of  post-office  and  custom-house  appoint 
ments  for  Philadelphia  for  the  President's  sanction.  Johnson 
said,  "  John,  if  there  is  anything  I  can  do  for  you  personally, 
command  me,  but  as  President,  I  cannot  accept  your  slate." 
Forney  left  the  White  House  abruptly,  and  on  the  following 
morning,  his  two  papers,  "  The  Washington  Chronicle "  and 
"  Philadelphia  Press/'  familiarly  known  as  "  My  two  papers, 
both  daily/7  opened  on  the  President  in  an  article  headed,  "  What 
is  the  matter  at  the  White  House?  The  President  closeted  with 
a  clown."  I  was  very  intimate  with  Colonel  Forney,  and,  meet 
ing  him  on  the  street,  asked  him  what  was  meant  by  the  articles 
in  his  papers.  He  replied,  "  Oh,  it's  a  big  card  for  you,  Kice." 
"  But,"  said  I,  "  John,  you  have  made  a  mistake.  The  President 
was  right."  He  complained  bitterly  at  his  treatment,  and  re 
marked  that  he  would  ruin  Jolmson  as  he  had  ruined  Buchanan. 
This  was,  undoubtedly,  the  occurrence  which  led  to  the  open 
rupture  between  the  President's  party  and  the  impeachment  fac 
tion.  The  minds  of  the  people  as  well  as  of  Government  officers 
were  filled  with  suspicions  of  the  times,  and  suggestions  of  dis 
loyalty  from  any  quarter  found  ready  credence.  Forney  did 
everything  in  his  power  to  ruin  Johnson,  even  going  as  far  as  to 
indirectly  accuse  him,  through  the  columns  of  his  papers,  of 
being  concerned  in  the  assassination  of  Lincoln.  What  was 
Grant's  connection  with  this  matter?  Grant  was  one  of  the  most 
unsuspecting  men  in  the  world,  and  his  credulity  was  imposed 
upon  by  the  Capitol  clique,  led  by  John  W.  Forney,  Thad  Stevens, 
Simon  Cameron,  and  others.  I  was  at  that  time  in  Washington 
with  a  big  show  bearing  my  name.  I  was  directing  the  parade 
from  my  seat  on  the  band  wagon,  and  after  having  serenaded  the 
heads  of  the  various  departments,  gave  the  order  "  On,  to  the 
White  House!"  Grant  and  Forney  were  standing  together  on 
the  sidewalk  and  overheard  the  order.  Both  shook  their  heads, 
and  Forney,  advancing,  advised  me  not  to  go,  on  the  ground  that 
it  would  make  me  unpopular.  Grant  said  nothing,  but  gravely 
shook  his  head.  Nevertheless,  we  proceeded,  and  the  band,  under 
my  direction,  played  "  Hail  to  the  Chief,"  concluding  with 
"Dixie."  Forney  was  mistaken,  for  the  vast  crowd  which  had 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICK  11)  1 

gathered  was  vociferous  in  its  demonstrations  of  enthusiasm.  It 
was  Forney  who  put  the  idea  into  Grant's  head  that  it  was  John 
son's  intention  to  become  "  the  Cromwell  of  the  hour,"  and  that 
his,  Grant's,  appointment  to  Mexico  was  made  in  order  to  re 
move  him  from  the  command  of  the  army,  where  he  was  a 
continual  menace  to  the  President.  It  was  at  one  time  the  in 
tention  of  the  President  to  dissolve  Congress  in  order  to  put  an 
end  to  the  incendiary  speeches  of  that  body,  which  were  apt  to 
lead  to  another  revolution.  It  must  be  remembered  that  the 
troops  of  Maryland,  Xew  York,  and  Pennsylvania  were  in  readi 
ness  to  answer  to  the  President's  call.  "  Se  ward's  counsel,"  how 
ever,  prevailed.  He  was  first  in  favor  of  this  plan,  but  later  ad 
vised  Johnson  to  wait,  thinking  that  some  better  solution  of  the 
difficulty  would  be  developed.  But  Johnson's  speech  at  the  head 
of  Pennsylvania  Avenue,  one  night,  destroyed  all  opportunities, 
if  any  existed,  of  a  compromise  between  himself  and  Congress. 
What  was  the  charge  that  Johnson  was  in  sympathy  with  the 
South  and  disloyal  to  the  Union?  I  knew  Johnson  from  boy 
hood.  He  was  honest,  patriotic,  self-sacrificing  in  his  loyalty. 
Owing  to  his  Union  sentiments,  he  was  compelled,  in  the  fall  of 
1850  or  the  spring  of  1SGO,  to  flee  from  his  home  in  Greenville, 
Term.,  leaving  his  property  unprotected  and  his  family  in  tears. 
He  was  piloted  through  the  timber  to  a  place  of  safety  by  a  col 
ored  boy  by  the  name  of  Dick  Kennar,  an  illegitimate  son  of  the 
great  Kennar  of  Louisiana.  Dick  was  at  one  time  snare  drummer 
in  my  band,  and  afterwards  he  became  a  hack  driver  in  New 
Orleans. 

Johnson  made  his  way  by  a  painful  and  tedious  journey  to 
Cincinnati,  where  he  arrived  in  a  destitute  condition,  and  made 
his  famous  speech  in  front  of  the  Burnett  House.  From  that 
time  onward  his  star  was  in  the  ascendant  until  dimmed  by  the 
conspirators  at  the  Capitol.  The  statement  of  General  Butler,  as 
published  in  a  subsequent  interview,  that  he  had  in  his  possession 
documents  of  a  secret  character  which  could  have  been  intro 
duced  at  the  impeachment  trial,  and  which  he  refused  to  make 
public,  I  regard  as  an  invention  of  that  ingenious  politician. 

WHAT'S  ix  A  NAME? 

Col.  Wm.  P.  Preston,  of  Louisville,  Ky.,  was  a  candidate  for 
Congress.  He  was  the  descendant  of  an  ancient  family  of  Vir 
ginia.  Col.  Wm.  C.  Preston  was  Dan  Rice's  circus  agent,  and 
lived  a  few  miles  from  the  city.  At  the  same  time  that  Wm.  P. 
Preston  was  running  for  Congress.  Wm.  C.  Preston  was  adver 
tised  to  appear  in  a  play  at  the  theatre,  the  circus  season  being 
over. 


192  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

Col.  Wm.  P.  Preston  had  a  strong  advocate  in  an  Irish  citizen, 
who  controlled  the  Irish  vote.  The  opposite  party  were  trying 
to  capture  him  and  his  influence,  and  laughed  at  him  in  the  way 
of  ridicule  of  his  candidate,  by  saying  that  he  was  nothing  but  a 
theatre  actor.  (While  Col.  Wm.  C.  Preston  was  my  agent,  he  was 
also  an  actor,  and  when  he  got  through  travelling  with  the  circus 
he  made  a  contract  for  a  week  or  two  to  play  Mazeppa,  his  favor 
ite  play.)  The  Irishman  indignantly  denied  it.  They  took  him 
out  and  showed  him  the  lithographs  representing  Mazeppa  on  a 
horse  being  chased  by  mountain  wolves.  The  Irishman  saw  the 
name,  and  said,  "  Be  jabbers,  I'll  go  to  the  theayter,  and  if  it  is 
so,  the  divil  a  vote  will  he  get  from  me  frinds."  The  night  ar 
rived,  the  Irishman  was  present,  and  was  so  carried  away  with 
the  excellence  of  Col.  Wm.  C.  Preston,  thinking  he  was  the 
politician,  that  he  got  up  on  the  stage  when  they  were  called  out 
and,  taking  him  by  the  hand,  said,  "  Oi'll  vote,  and  all  me  f rinds 
will  vote  for  you.  Ye're  a  damned  soight  betther  actor  than  ye 
are  a  lawyer." 

The  incident  created  great  applause  and  excitement. 

Wm.  P.  Preston  was  a  general  in  the  late  war.  An  incident  of 
an  interesting  character  occurred  in  connection  with  the  distin 
guished  general,  living  in  Lexington,  Ky.,  in  1885.  Dan  Rice 
lectured  at  the  Opera  House  in  Lexington  when  he  was  on  his 
sixteen  months'  lecture  tour,  and  he  noticed  present  General 
Preston.  He  told  the  above  story  to  the  delight  of  the  vast  audi 
ence.  It  created  great  laughter  and  applause.  The  general  was 
one  of  the  interesting  and  honored  citizens  of  the  Blue  Grass 
State.  He  waited  with  his  friends  for  Dan  Rice,  and  escorted 
him  to  his  palatial  home  and  entertained  him  most  royally  that 
evening.  Preston  was  an  "  old-time  "  WThig.  It  was  this  demo 
cratic  vote  that  elected  him. 

A   SINGULAR  COINCIDENCE. 

In  the  winter  of  1889  Colonel  Rice  was  being  entertained  by 
the  late  Col.  John  A.  Cockerill,  Judge  Duffy,  and  Gen.  James 
R.  O'Beirne,  when  one  evening  a  gentleman  approached  the 
Colonel  as  they  sat  in  Room  No.  1  at  the  Astor  House,  and  asked, 
"Is  this  Dan  Rice?"  Colonel  Rice  arose,  and,  extending  his 
hand,  replied,  "  Yes,  sir;  but  you  have  the  best  of  me."  The 
gentleman  remarked.,  "  Well,  you  got  the  best  of  me  about  thirty 
years  ago  when  you  came  into  my  law  office  at  Cincinnati  and 
wanted  my  advice  about  bringing  a  suit  against  Nick  Longworth, 
one  of  our  wealthy  citizens,  for  $80,000.  I  gave  you  the  advice 
and  you  went  off  and  settled  with  the  gentleman  for  $60,000,  and 
never  came  near  your  lawyer  again," 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    HICE  193 

It  eventually  turned  out  to  be  T.  C.  Campbell,  of  Cincinnati, 
now  a  citizen  of  Harlem,  a  leading  politician,  and  a  successful 
'aw}Ter,  who  as  he  concluded  his  remarks  hurried  away,  but  not 
before  Colonel  Rice  had  called  out  to  him  that  the  check  he  re 
ceived  for  the  $60,000  went  to  protest  and  was  now  part  of  the 
assets  of  other  days.  As  he  has  not,  up  to  this  date,  sought  to 
enforce  his  claim,  the  distinguished  lawyer  is  doubtless  gen 
erously  availing  himself  of  the  statutes  of  limitation  to  the  ad 
vantage  of  Colonel  Rice.  An  hour  or  so  later  as  Colonel  Rice  was 
standing  at  the  entrance  to  the  Astor  House,  Bartley  Campbell, 
the  great  dramatist,  accosted  him,  and  after  a  few  brief  and  pain 
fully  disconnected  inquiries  as  to  Mr.  Rice's  financial  affairs, 
drew  a  check-book  from  his  pocket,  and  after  affixing  his  signa 
ture  to  a  draft,  he  handed  it  to  the  Colonel,  remarking  as  he 
hurried  away,  "  Write  in  the  amount  you  need  and  it  will  be 
all  right."  A  few  days  later  again  meeting  Colonel  Cockerill, 
Colonel  Rice,  in  speaking  of  the  strange  coincidence  of  meeting 
the  two  Campbells,  he  was  shocked  to  learn  that  that  very  morn 
ing  the  great-souled  Campbell  had  become  forever  mentally  un 
balanced. 

To  HON.  Ex-U.  S.  SENATOR  RUFUS  BLODGETT. 

Xot  to  describe  men  as  they  are  is  not  to  describe  them  at  all, 
and  if  they  should  exhibit  some  few  venial  imperfections,  which 
is  the  lot  of  men,  like  flaws  or  specks  on  a  diamond,  they  are  lost 
in  its  general  brilliancy  and  lustre,  as  viewed  from  the  standpoint 
of  this  writer.  He  has  one  quality,  however,  said  to  be  the  usual 
concomitant  of  greatness,  and  which,  no  doubt,  springs  from  the 
strict  purity  of  his  motives,  and  the  sincerity  of  his  opinions,  and 
that  is  obstinacy,  or,  as  it  is  called  in  more  courtly  language,  firm 
ness.  He  generally  adheres  to  his  opinions  certainly  from  no 
selfishness  or  want  of  magnanimity,  but  because  he  firmly  be 
lieves  those  opinions  to  be  right,  although  I  positively  assert 
"  it  is  much  more  magnanimous  to  retreat  than  to  persist  in 
error,"  let  us  say  what  we  may.  A  proper  tenacity  of  opinion  is 
assuredly  preferable  to  a  vibratory,  vacillating  presiding  officer 
over  an  intelligent,  deliberative  body  such  as  our  Long  Branch 
Commissioners  are  presumed  to  be,  who  changes  his  mind  as 
freely  and  frequently  as  his  apparel,  and  with  much  less  regard 
for  appearance.  It  has  been  said  that  "  obstinacy  and  firmness 
spring  from  the  same  root;  it  is  obstinacy  when  the  course  is  bad, 
firmness  when  it  is  good,"  and  with  this  understanding  in  its 
application  to  our  Honorable  Mayor  let  us  call  it  firmness.  It 
matters  not  to  what  post  he  has  been  called — to  the  State  Legis 
lature,  the  United  States  Senate,  the  Superintendent  of  the  New 
Jersey  Central  Railroad,  or  Mayor  of  Long  Branch,  in  all  he  has 
13 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

proved  equal  to  it,  and  never  one  jot  above  it.  He  did  not  grad 
uate  from  Princeton,  but  has  good  sense  abundant.  He  never 
amazes  with  his  wisdom,  nor  shocks  you  by  his  folly,  the  just 
medium  is  his  highest  and  safest  distinction.  He  engages  the 
confidence  of  all  without  ever  having  justly  forfeited  the  kind 
regards  of  any. 

ZACH  CHANDLER. 

During  a  political  campaign  I  was  journeying  from  Cincinnati 
to  Chicago  on  a  midnight  train.  Sleep  was  out  of  the  question. 
I  had  taken  an  inside  seat  and,  as  is  usually  the  case  with  most 
travellers,  began  my  railway  journey  by  looking  out  of  the  win 
dow  in  an  abstracted  sort  of  way  and  thinking  of  nothing  in  par 
ticular,  when  I  suddenly  was  made  aware  of  the  presence  of  a 
fellow-traveller  by  a  gruff  voice  asking  if  the  adjoining  seat  was 
preempted.  Looking  up,  before  removing  a  valise  which  rested 
there,  I  recognized  and  cheerily  greeted  my  old  friend,  Zach 
Chandler.  He  received  my  cordial  hand-grasp  in  a  perfunctory 
way.  I  noticed  he  seemed  wretchedly  wasted.  He  certainly  was 
so  mentally  jaded  that,  despite  my  best  efforts  to  arouse  him 
with  amusing  yarns,  he  scarcely  smiled.  Remarking  that  he  was 
evidently  worn  out  and  needed  rest,  the  grizzly  political  war-horse 
shook  his  mane  and,  placing  his  arm  across  the  back  of  the  car 
seat,  half  grunted  with  a  cynical  smile,  "  Rest,  Rice,  rest.  Where 
in  h — 11  am  I  to  get  it  here?  What  kind  of  rest — like  that  rock 
over  there,7'  pointing  to  a  big  boulder  abutting  the  tracks  of  the 
flying  train.  "See  here,  Rice,  can  you  harvest  without  ploughing; 
reap  without  sowing?  "  After  a  lapse  of  several  minutes  he  con 
tinued:  "  I  am  tired,  but  there  is  no  let-up.  It's  a  case  of  keep 
moving  with  me,  or  the  curtain  falls.  I  am  pretty  much  like  a 
horse  my  father  once  had;  he  was  a  thoroughbred,  but  age  was 
creeping  on.  For  nearly  eleven  months  he  could  not  be  induced 
to  lie  down  in  his  stall;  he  knew  if  he  did  he  would  never  get 
up.  One  winter  morning  I  went  to  the  barn  to  feed  him.  He 
was  dead — he  died  on  his  feet." 

Twenty-two  hours  later  I  accompanied  Mr.  Chandler  to  Mc- 
Cormick's  Hall,  Chicago,  where  he  was  scheduled  for  a  campaign 
speech.  Wlien  he  concluded  I  alone  escorted  him  to  the  Grand 
Pacific  Hotel.  After  a  light  supper  and  a  cigar  he  retired  to 
rest.  If  he  slept  he  never  woke  again;  death  came  to  him;  he 
was  found  lifeless  in  the  morning. 

Meeting  General  Grant  on  his  return  from  his  trip  around  the 
world,  at  the  St.  Charles  Hotel,  New  Orleans,  I  had  a  long  con 
fidential  talk  with  him,  during  which  he  asked  what  I  thought 
of  the  third  term  scheme.  I  replied,  "  General,  under  no  cir- 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  195 

cumstances  do  you  allow  your  good  name  to  be  presented  before 
the  National  Republican  Convention,  for  you  will  not  only  be 
defeated  but  it  will  dim  the  lustre  of  your  military  greatness  and 
be  a  target  for  your  political  enemies  to  direct  their  shafts  of 
venom.  They  will  dissect  the  defects  of  your  two  administra 
tions,  such  as  the  whiskey  ring  at  St.  Louis,  where  General  Mc 
Donald  and  Colonel  Wm.  McKee,  and  others  were  locked  up  at 
the  Four  Courts.  Although  you  pardoned  them  out,  still  it 
doesn't  change  the  complexion  of  the  rascality  and  scandal 
of  your  two  administrations.  Those  political  comets  will 
move  heaven  and  earth  to  blast  your  character  and  prejudice 
the  people/' 

HOUSTON  AND  CAMERON. 

In  Washington,  during  his  last  term  in  Congress,  I  was  intro 
duced  to  Gen.  Sam  Houston,  by  Henry  Clay,  of  Kentucky.  I 
also,  on  that  occasion.,  met  Capt.  Forbes  Britton,  of  Corpus 
Christi,  a  gallant  Texas  Ranger.  He  and  General  Houston  and 
I  were  walking  on  Pennsylvania  Avenue,  from  the  Capitol,  when 
we  met  Hon.  Simon  Cameron,  of  Pennsylvania,  with  whom  I 
was  also  intimately  acquainted.  We  shook  hands,  and  Captain 
Britton  was  introduced.  General  Cameron  jocularly  remarked  to 
General  Houston,  "  You  must  be  a  Connecticut  man."  "  Why?  " 
asked  the  General.  "  Because  I  see  you  not  only  on  the  floors 
of  Congress  but  on  this  great  thoroughfare  whittling  a  stick." 
"  Friend  Cameron,"  said  Houston,  "  I  am  always  laboring  to  be 
useful.  This  is  a  very  small  piece  of  pine  timber,  you  see;  it 
comes  from  Pennsylvania,  your  own  State.  If  I  could  only  whit 
tle  a  ton  of  it  a  day  I  would  do  so  if  it  would  only  keep  a  good 
many  of  your  rabid  constituents  '  sawing  wood  and  saying  noth 
ing  '  about  my  people  and  their  private  affairs — you  Yanks  want 
to  know  too  much."  Cameron,  who  was  plainly  ruffled,  radi 
ated  one  of  his  graveyard  grins  and  sauntered  silently  away. 

HOBART. 

It  was  during  the  summer  of  1899,  made  memorable  in  Long 
Branch  by  the  presence  of  Vice-President  Hobart,  who  lived  at 
Norwood  Park  in  comparative  retirement  on  account  of  failing 
health,  that  Colonel  Rice  was  a  frequent  visitor  at  Xormanhurst 
by  special  invitation  and  otherwise.  Formalities  were  dispensed 
with  by  Mr.  Hobarfs  request,  and  the  Colonel  made  his  visits 
whenever  he  felt  disposed  to  do  so.  Those  informal  visits  were 
a  source  of  mutual  interest  to  both  gentlemen,  whose  past  ac 
quaintance  with  Washington  life  embraced  all  the  shades  of  so 
ciety,  both  civil  and  political,  with  this  exception — Colonel  Rice's 


196  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

broader  experience  with  the  "  old  school "  politicians  of  earlier 
days.  To  be  in  the  Colonel's  presence  was  a  fitting  excuse  for 
Mr.  Hobart  to  throw  off  the  dignity  of  his  official  requirements 
and  be  himself  with  a  congenial  spirit;  so,  on  one  occasion,  he 
invited  Colonel  Rice  to  devote  an  afternoon  to  an  outing  with 
him,  which  appointment  was  religiously  kept  by  the  Colonel. 
The  day  in  question  was  in  August.  The  Colonel  drove  over  to 
see  the  Vice-President  and  his  horse  was  put  in  the  Hobart 
stables,  and  together  these  two  genial  spirits  in  the  Hobart  car 
riage  spent  a  few  hours;  one  to  forget  the  responsibility  of  public 
life  and  of  the  arduous  toils  of  office,  the  one  to  neutralize  the 
regrets  of  the  memories  of  other  days,  the  other  the  burdens  of 
a  professional  one. 

Colonel  Rice  played  the  part  of  chaperon  on  this  occasion,  and 
so  faithfully  did  he  meet  the  requirements  that  no  one  ever  sus 
pected  that  Vice-President  Hobart  was  the  debutant  on  that 
day's  outing.  They  visited  several  of  the  suburban  towns,  going 
over  the  beautiful  drives  that  make  Long  Branch  famous.  Mr. 
Hobart  was  particularly  communicative  to  Colonel  Rice  about 
his  successes  in  life,  his  ambitions,  failures,  etc.,  and  to  quote  him 
from  Colonel  Rice's  notes,  "  I  am  weary  of  it  all,  Colonel,  and 
my  failing  health  makes  it  doubly  so.  Although  I  am  a  young 
manj  this  affliction  is  a  source  of  constant  torture  to  me,  for  I 
feel  that  I  have  only  a  short  time  to  stay  here,  and  yet  should 
stay  longer,  as  my  real  work  in  life  is  but  half  completed.  It 
tested  the  Colonel's  strength  of  will  to  divert  Mr.  Hobart' s  mind 
from  himself;  but  with  that  delightful  tact  which  characterized 
him  in  the  forum  and  in  the  arena,  he  gradually  brought  his 
humor  into  play  until  Mr.  Hobart  again  saw  the  sunny  side  of  life 
with  the  famous  old  clown  as  his  entertainer.  They  each  in  turn 
rehearsed  past  reminiscences  which  were,  no  doubt,  a  trifle  ex- 
panded  by  a  limited  quantity  of  champagne,  which  was  indulged 
in  merely  for  mutual  good-fellowship's  sake.  Mr.  Hobart  ex 
pressed  himself  as  not  satisfied  with  the  place  of  his  birth.  "  Lack 
of  energy  is  so  marked  among  the  native  born,"  he  said,  "  and  all 
enterprise  is  due  to  the  stranger  who  has  made  it  his  adopted 
home." 

"What  is  the  cause  of  it  all,  Colonel?"  he  asked.  "I  have 
but  one  answer,  Mr.  Hobart,"  the  Colonel  replied,  "  it  is  said  that 
from  time  immemorial  Long  Branch  has  been  the  name  of  a 
watering-place,  for  the  Indians  used  it  as  such.  I  think,  in  all 
probability,  they  left  their  spirits  in  the  air." 

Mr.  Hobart  suddenly  bursting  into  a  hearty  laugh,  replied, 
"  Spirits  in  the  air;  quite  good,  Colonel,  very  good.  Too  much 
fire-water  you  know,  Colonel,  made  the  red  man  a  poor  business 
man;  perhaps  the  weapon  our  Christian  people  in  the  past  used 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    EICE  197 

(with  powder  and  shot  as  an  incidental  aid)  to  exterminate  the 
Indian  is  an  irony  on  each  other  in  this  beautiful  place  of  my 
birth.  I  have  observed  two  things  to-day/'  continued  the  Vice- 
President,  "  which  suggest  the  meaning  of  my  remark.  I  was 
startled  to  see  so  many  saloons  in  Long  Branch  apparently  pros 
pering,  and  in  the  immediate  outskirts  such  monotonously  nu 
merous  repetitions  of  houses  and  farms  placarded  with  the 
startling  legends  '  To  Let '  or  e  For  Sale.'  It  is  apparent  to  me 
that  it  is  a  pathetic  case  of  cause  and  effect.  Spirits  in  the  air, 
Colonel,  surely  not  Indian  spirits." 

Observing  boys  playing  a  game  of  ball  in  a  near-by  field  as  they 
rode  by  the  Vice-President  suddenly  exclaimed,  "  I  wish  I  was 
there  playing  shortstop,  I  do  believe  I  was  the  most  conceited 
shortstop  that  ever  lived  in  the  world  of  amateur  baseball;  I 
never  let  anything  pass  me,  never  lost  an  opportunity  that  came 
my  way."  The  Colonel,  taking  advantage  of  a  moment's  pause, 
ventured  to  add,  "  And  so  it  was  through  all  your  life,  Mr. 
Hobart,  you  were  always  on  the  alert,  wide-awake  to  take  advan 
tage  of  every  opportunity  that  came  your  way  to  honorable  ad 
vancement.  In  truth,  you  never  stopped  short  until  you  reached 
the  Vice- Presidency." 

"  Speaking  of  my  boyhood  days,"  continued  the  Vice-Presi 
dent,  "  suggests  a  humorous  '  swaddling '  story.  Since  I  re 
turned  to  Long  Branch  as  a  summer  resident  I  have  been  re 
peatedly  accosted  by  scores  of  old  school-fellows,  who,  with  par 
donable,  if  mistaken,  pride  greet  me  as  an  old  class  chum.  Well, 
honestly,  Colonel,  it  was  cruel  to  disabuse  their  well-meant  im 
pressions  because,  although  I  was  born  on  what  is  now  Broadway 
in  Long  Branch,  and  although  my  father  was  the  village  school 
master  opposite  where  Gus  Byard's  farm  is  to-day,  I  was  five  years 
old  when  father  gave  up  his  charge  and  migrated  to  other  parts. 
I  did  not  directly  disabuse  the  minds  of  these  gentlemen  but 
good-naturedly  suggested — ma}rbe  I  went  to  the  same  school,  but, 
alas,  in  my  mother's  arms." 

THOMAS  MCKENNA,  LONG  BRANCH  COMMISSIONER. 

A  public  man  of  courage  and  capacity,  as  just  in  unmasking 
the  guilty  as  he  was  zealous  in  defending  the  right;  a  man  in 
capable  of  giving  currency  to  statements  having  no  foundation 
in  fact. 

Bourbonic,  perhaps,  in  presenting  his  method,  yet  fearlessly 
honest  in  uttering  his  opinions.  Without  prejudice  or  venom, 
he  is  naturally  devoid  of  an  honest  enemy. 

The  influence  wielded  by  such  a  man  cannot  be  of  a  mushroom 
growth;  its  full  force  can  grow  but  slowly,  and  improve,  like 
wine,  with  age. 


198  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

Here  in  all  he  is  a  man  for  conscientious  men  to  cozen  to,  and 
one  from  whom  political  rogues  must  shrink. 

His  last  defeat  as  a  Commissioner  will  yet  prove  to  be  the 
stepping  stone  to  his  greatest  triumphs. 

COMMODORE  VANDERBILT  AND  DAN  RICE. 

The  humble  origin  of  the  head  of  the  millionaire  family  is  well 
known.  When  a  very  young  man,  he  sold  clams  in  the  streets 
of  New  York  from  a  cart  and  this  was  the  burden  of  his  cry: 

"  Here  are  fine  clams,  fine  clams  to-day, 
Lately  come  from  Rockaway. 
Oh,  my  cart  is  broke,  my  horse  is  blind, 
Pray  little  boys  keep  off  behind." 

Dan  was  one  of  the  little  boys  thus  appealed  to,  and  in  after 
life,  when  Vanderbilt  became  a  millionaire  and  Dan  had  become 
famous,  the  former  was  a  great  admirer  of  the  aspiring  young 
jester,  and  upon  several  occasions  volunteered  friendly  advice 
interlarded  with  anecdote  and  incident  pertaining  to  himself. 

His  youngest  daughter  was  his  especial  favorite  when  a  child, 
and  she  was  almost  his  constant  companion.  Upon  one  of  his 
visits  to  Saratoga,  accompanied  by  his  little  girl  and  while  walk 
ing  upon  one  of  the  principal  promenades,  he  espied  an  old 
huckster  woman  upon  the  opposite  side  of  the  way  attending  a 
fruit  stand,  whom  he  had  known  well  in  his  youth  while  strug 
gling  with  poverty  and  fighting  the  battle  of  life,  and  cross 
ing  over  he  shook  her  by  the  hand,  greeted  her  cordially  and, 
seating  himself  upon  a  stool,  commenced  a  familiar  chat.  In  the 
meantime  his  little  girl,  whom  he  had  left  standing  upon  the 
opposite  side,  was  accosted  by  some  of  her  bon-ton  acquaintances, 
who  expressed  surprise  at  the  open  familiarity  of  her  father  with 
the  poor  vender  of  fruit.  Miss,  herself,  was  mortified,  and  cross 
ing  to  his  side  she  pulled  his  sleeve  and  whispered,  "  Papa,  do 
pray  come  away,  everybody  is  wondering  at  your  sitting  here." 

"  My  little  darling,"  said  the  commodore,  "  shake  hands  with 
this  old  lady,  she  is  an  honest  wife  and  noble  mother.  Pay  no 
attention  to  what  remarks  are  made  by  frivolous  fools,  for  this 
lady  is  an  honest,  virtuous  woman,  commodities  scarce  in  the 
market.  And  remember,  darling,  that  poverty  is  no  disgrace,  for 
when  I  married  your  mother  she  was  a  washerwoman." 

This  revelation  made  such  an  impression  upon  the  mind  of  the 
child  that  it  affected  the  current  of  her  after  life,  which,  up  to 
the  present  period  has  been  one  of  charity  and  benevolence,  ren 
dering  her  name  among  those  with  whom  she  has  come  in  con 
tact  a  cherished  memory. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  199 


DAN  RICE  ON  JAY  GOULD. 

The  great  railroad  manipulator  was  born  in  the  County  of 
Delaware,  State  of  New  York,  and  while  a  child  he  exemplified 
the  adage  that  •"  the  boy  is  father  to  the  man."  The  ruling 
principle  was  illustrated  by  an  incident  that  occurred  in  his 
native  town. 

Some  dainty  pies  in  a  confectioner's  shop  attracted  his  atten 
tion,  but  the  price  didn't  suit  him;  they  were  twopence  each. 
While  the  attention  of  the  female  attendant  was  attracted  to  a 
customer,  Jay  thrust  his  finger  into  one  and  broke  the  crust,  and 
upon  her  return  he  pointed  to  it,  remarking  that  it  was  so  dam 
aged  that  she  ought  to  let  him  have  it  for  half  price,  and  he  got 
the  pie  upon  his  own  terms. 

He  has  pursued  the  same  course  in  his  dealings  with  railroads, 
first  depreciating  and  demoralizing  the  stock  and  then  buying 
it  up  at  half  price.  As  Shakespeare  says: 

"  The  devil  speed  him; 

No  man's  pie  is  i  freed  '  from  his  ambitious  fingers." 

RECIPROCAL  GRATITUDE. 

In  the  early  fifties,  while  fighting  his  enemies,  Colonel  Rice 
often  found  himself  placed  in  positions  that  required  financial 
assistance,  and  it  rarely,  if  ever,  occurred  that  his  requests  in 
that  direction  were  not  recognized.  His  reliability  was  unques 
tioned,  therefore  he  could  command  any  amuont  without  even 
so  much  as  the  scratch  of  a  pen.  It  was  on  one  of  these  occa 
sions  that  Colonel  Rice  called  on  Daniel  Van  Wonder  to  go  on  his 
bond  for  five  thousand  dollars  to  carry  on  his  professional  battle, 
and  this  man,  who  followed  the  vocation  of  a  butcher  in  Cin 
cinnati,  came  promptly  to  his  aid,  and  willingly  furnished  the 
amount  with  only  a  verbal  understanding  between  them.  The 
money,  with  interest,  was  returned  to  Van  Wonder  at  the  ex 
piration  of  the  time  agreed  upon.  As  time  advanced  he  met  with 
reverses,  and  Colonel  Rice  was  prosperous,  and  in  the  spring  of 
1856,  while  the  Colonel  was  in  Cincinnati,  Van  Wonder  applied 
for  a  loan  of  five  thousand  dollars,  with  which  to  buy  cattle  and 
save  himself  from  bankruptcy.  Colonel  Rice  gratefully  remem 
bered  the  favor  which  Van  Wonder  had  previously  bestowed  in 
his  behalf,  and  he  willingly  gave  the  sum  to  his  embarrassed 
friend  under  the  same  conditions  of  a  verbal  contract.  In  four 
years  the  indebtedness  was  cancelled  without  a  word  having  been 
spoken  by  Colonel  Rice  on  the  subject.  Mrs.  Hereford,  a  daugh- 


200  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

ter  of  Van  Wonder,  lived  also  in  Cincinnati,  and  subsequently 
told  the  Colonel  that  her  father  had  instructed  his  children  to 
"  always  be  a  friend  to  Dan  Rice."  An  opportunity  was  offered 
some  years  later  to  demonstrate  the  fact  that  the  father's  instruc 
tions  were  not  forgotten.  Several  of  the  Van  Wonders  located 
in  St.  Louis,  and  in  1875,  Colonel  Eice,  being  in  that  city,  was 
hunting  around  for  a  loan  of  ten  thousand  dollars  to  replevin 
some  horses  that  were  owned  by  the  firm  of  Glidden  &  Manifee. 
They  had  been  trained  by  Bartholomew  in  Denver,  Col.,  and  were 
superb  creatures  adapted  to  any  performance  in  the  ring.  In 
quiring  of  the  livery  keeper  if  he  knew  where  any  of  the  Van 
Wonders  lived,  he  received  for  reply,  there  is  one  of  them  now 
lying  asleep  on  the  couch  in  the  office.  It  proved  to  be  James 
Van  Wonder,  a  son  of  the  Colonel's  old  friend,  who  lived  in  St. 
Paul,  and  was,  at  present,  visiting  his  brother  in  St.  Louis.  After 
renewing  his  acquaintance  with  Colonel  Eice  whom  he  had  not 
met  for  years,  the  Colonel  made  known  his  wishes  in  regard  to  the 
bond,  and  Van  Wonder  readily  assented  to  signing  the  document. 
"  But  you  live  in  Minnesota,"  said  Colonel  Eice.  "  Well,"  he 
said,  "  I  can  easily  fix  that  all  right  by  telegraph."  "  But,"  said 
the  Colonel,  "  the  case  is  not  in  St.  Louis,  it  is  in  Edwardsville, 
111."  Van  Wonder  replied,  "  as  I  own  a  large  tract  of  land  in  St. 
Clair  County,  I  am  a  freeholder.  If  it  takes  the  whole  claim  I 
will  sacrifice  it.  That  was  the  instruction  of  my  father,  to  al 
ways  be  a  friend  to  Dan  Eice."  The  result  was  that  Van  Wonder 
telegraphed  to  the  county  clerk;  the  lawyers  were  satisfied,  the 
sheriff  accepted  the  replevin  bond,  and  the  horses  were  released 
and  shipped  to  Cincinnati. 


DAN  EICE  AND  GEORGE  D.  PRENTICE. 

On  Tuesday  evening  George  D.  Prentice  visited  the  National 
Theatre  and  was  the  recipient  of  a  marked  compliment  from  the 
celebrated  humorist,  who,  after  adverting  upon  the  calamities  of 
the  country,  and  the  disasters  which  had  befallen  the  Union 
cause  through  political  "  prestidigitators,"  expressed  his  pride 
and  satisfaction  at  the  attendance  of  our  great,  accomplished, 
patriotic,  and  devoted  member  of  the  press.  "  That  man,"  said 
he,  pointing  to  the  gentleman  who  occupied  a  conspicuous  posi 
tion  in  the  boxes,  "  is  George  D.  Prentice,  of  Louisville." 

The  effect  was  electric;  the  audience  rose  en  masse,  and  three 
cheers  were  given  for  the  talented  journalist,  followed  by  three 
more  for  Dan  Eice.  Mr.  Prentice  bowed  an  acknowledgment, 
and  appeared  deeply  impressed  with  the  compliment,  which  was 
indeed  an  impromptu  demonstration. — "  Enquirer,"  May,  1861. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  201 


A  DISHONORABLE  FLAG. 

While  the  circus  was  exhibiting  in  Troy,  N.  Y.,  Mr.  Rice  made 
one  of  his  characteristic  speeches  with  a  point  to  it.  Said  he: 

"  I  am  a  son  of  New  York,  but  I  cannot  admire  the  city  fathers. 
They  are,  in  social  life,  pretty  good  fellows,  but  in  public,  they 
are  a  sort  of  human  cormorant.  They  also  possess  capacious 
pockets,  all  of  which  must  be  filled. 

"  Some  persons  have  been  rude  and  ungenerous  enough  to  ac 
cuse  them  of  stealing,  but  this  must  be  an  error.  A  part  of  their 
public  business  is  to  make  appropriations.  Some  of  these  they 
make,  but  never  pass;  they  carry  them  with  them.  Hence  arises 
the  charge  of  peculation.  If  a  man  is  desirous  of  losing  his 
character,  he  has  only  to  become  an  alderman.  I  once  heard  a 
mother  say  to  her  offspring  who  had  been  detected  in  some  little 
pilfering,  e  If  you  go  on  this  way  you  will  either  be  sent  to  prison 
or  be  made  an  alderman/  Our  city  fathers  are  generally  fond 
of  celebrations,  they  like  to  see  the  Stars  and  Stripes  floating  in 
the  breeze.  But  there  was  one  Flagg  they  could  never  raise — 
Azariah  C.  They  tried  to  put  him  out  because  he  would  not  pay 
out  some  of  the  city's  bills,  but  he  turned  the  tables  on  them  and 
let  the  creditors  put  ouf  the  auctioneer's  flag  instead.  i  There 
was  a  sell  all  around/  '  The  gist  of  the  last  joke  was  that  A.  C. 
Flagg  was  the  Mayor  of  Troy,  and  during  his  term  of  office  he 
at  one  time  approached  a  certain  alderman  of  that  city  as  follows: 
Said  he,  "  A  lady  called  upon  one  of  the  members  of  the  Board 
to  ask  his  contribution  for  an  Institution  for  Foundlings.  The 
alderman  was  known  to  be  somewhat  promiscuous  in  his  amours 
and  he  was  equally  noted  for  his  parsimony.  '  Madame/  said 
he,  '  I  have  already  contributed  largely  to  similar  institutions/ 

" '  I  have  no  doubt  of  it/  she  replied,  '  but  please  contribute, 
in  this  instance,  in  money/  '• 

DAN  RICE. 

A  name  familiar  in  almost  every  household  in  America. 

Not  long  since  the  "  Enquirer  "  published  a  reminiscence  in 
the  life  of  the  old  showman  which  was  read  by  Mr.  George  A. 
Emmitt  of  this  city,  and  it  recalled  to  his  mind  the  time  when 
Mr.  Rice  came  to  Waverly  with  what  was  then  considered  his 
mammoth  circus  and  menagerie  and  exhibited  his  wonders  in  the 
lot  now  occupied  by  the  court  house. 

This  property  was  owned  by  Hon.  James  Emmitt,  and  the 
conditions  on  which  Mr.  Rice  secured  the  privilege  of  pitching 
his  acres  of  tents  there  were  that  he  should  have  the  ground  lev 
elled  off,  the  fence  repaired,  and  all  other  damages  occasioned 


202  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

during  his  stay  were  to  be  remedied  before  he  left  town.  To 
this  Mr.  Rice  willingly  agreed.,  but  owing  to  the  rush  of  business 
and  the  late  hour  of  getting  together  his  long  train  of  wagons 
preparatory  to  starting  to  the  next  town,  the  grounds  were  about 
to  be  left  in  their  untidy  state,,  when  the  constable  arrested  him 
for  breach  of  contract. 

The  humorous  circus  manager  mounted  a  store  box,,  and.,  in  less 
that  half  an  hour,  he  had  the  whole  populace  convulsed  with 
laughter  by  his  comical  pleading  of  his  own  case.  Mr.  Emmitt 
was  lenient  and,  instead  of  pushing  the  prosecution,  insisted  on 
entertaining  Mr.  Rice  at  his  elegant  home  and  the  grounds  were 
afterward  put  in  order  at  the  latter's  expense. 

DAN  RICE'S  AUNT'S  OPINION  or  A  GAME  OF  CHESS. 

Bice — Do  you  play  chess,  Mr.  X? 

M r.  N. — Oh,  yes,  sir,  whenever  my  professional  duties  will  per 
mit;  I  am  very  fond  of  it,  sir. 

Rice — It's  a  noble  game,  and  how  beautifully  our  young  Amer 
ican  champion  has  beaten  the  proficients  of  the  Old  World;  not 
one  of  them  could  cope  with  the  splendid  Morphy.  The  veterans 
in  the  chess  circles  have  met  him  and  been  defeated.  One  only 
declined  to  meet  him.  His  excuse  was  transparent.  He  says, 
"  I  might  under  other  circumstances;  and  I  might  at  some  future 
time;  and  my  occupation  might  form  an  excuse."  He  is  some 
thing  like  an  old  Staunton  cheese — full  of  mites! 

Mr.  N. — Harwitz  and  Anderssen  acted  more  nobly. 

Rice — Did  they  not.  They  had  been  accustomed  to  defeat  all 
with  who  they  came  in  contact;  they  were  gentlemen,  and  showed 
that  even  when  their  skill  failed  before  the  chess-giant  of  the 
West,  they  could  be  gentlemen  still.  It's  a  splendid  game.  I 
have  an  old  aunt,  however,  who  rather  inclines  to  regard  it  as  a 
sort  of  social  trap.  She  is  somewhat  antiquated,  and  we  seldom 
quarrel  with  her  notions.  She  will  sit  bolt-upright  in  her  high- 
backed  chair — one  of  the  ten  thousand  brought  over  in  the  May 
flower  with  the  Pilgrim  fathers — with  her  hands  crossed  upon 
her  lap,  her  spectacles  elevated  to  her  forehead,  and  her  cap  frill 
bobbing  with  every  motion  of  her  head.  •  She  says: 

"  Chess!  Yes,  "it's  all  very  well  to  play  chess,  but  it  ginerally 
ends  in  airnest.  A  gal  gits  her  feller  right  afore  her,  and  com 
mences  her  movements.  The  fust  on  it  is  them  pawns.  I  know 
how  they  used  to  redeem  pawns  when  I  was  a  gal.  Then  the 
knights  goes  galivantin'  round  the  queens  in  their  castles.  So 
she  advances  and  backs  out,  and  he  keeps  a-follering  up,  an'  they 
get  the  bishop  into  the  scrape,  an'  it  all  ends  in  their  mating. 
It's  a  dangerous  percedin',  an'  very  much  practised  by  the  gals." 


REMINISCENCES    OF  '  DAN    1UCE  203 


DAN  RICE'S  STORY. 

Col.  Dan  Rice  places  his  history  in  Pittsburg,  and  the  date 
early  in  1850.  He  says  at  that  time  there  was  a  livery-stable 
keeper  by  the  name  of  "  Billy  "  Patterson  and  his  place  of  busi 
ness  on  Penn  Avenue  near  Fifth  Street.  Patterson  had  in  his 
employ  a  rather  green  Irishman,  whose  name  was  Terrence  Leary, 
and  who  loved  Patterson  better  than  life.  In  fact,  during  the 
long  winter  nights,  when  Patterson's  friends  would  congregate 
around  the  stove  in  the  stable  office,  Terrence  would  declare  that 
he  would  murder  the  man  who  would  dare  lay  a  hand  on  Patter 
son.  The  friends  thereupon  chided  Terrence,  but  the  doughty 
Irishman  would  take  it  all  in  good  humor,  but  still  stuck  to  his 
declaration. 

Finally,  Patterson's  friends  decided  to  put  Terrence  to  a  test, 
and  got  Patterson  himself  in  the  secret.  They  chose  a  time  when 
Terrence  was  near-by  in  the  stableyard,  and  then  Patterson  set 
up  an  awful  yell. 

"Murder!  Help!  Terrence,  they're  killing  me,"  he  cried, 
and  Terrence,  hearing  the  shrieks  of  agony,  stopped  his  work  and 
rushed  for  the  office. 

"  Who  hit  '  Billy  '  Patterson?  " 

Terrence  did  not  wait  to  open  the  door,  but  in  his  mad  rush  to 
come  to  his  friend's  assistance,  crashed  straight  through  it  and 
bolted  into  the  office.  Furniture  was  overthrown,  and  in  a  corner 
lay  Patterson. 

"Who  hit  '  Billy '  Patterson?"  demanded  Terrence,  his  eyes 
flashing  fire,  and  seizing  one  of  Patterson's  friends  who  happened 
to  be  near  the  prostrate  man,  threw  him  bodily  through  the  win 
dow.  The  other  jokers  fled  precipitately,  and,  in  a  second,  Ter 
rence  and  Patterson  were  left  alone.  Terrence  was  soon  told  of 
the  joke,  but  it  soon  got  noised  abroad.  Colonel  Rice  got  hold 
of  it  and  was  soon  telling  it  from  the  ring  of  his  "  one-hoss  " 
show,  and  in  the  meantime  every  one  was  asking,  "  Who  hit 
'  Billy  'Patterson?" 

TIM  DONAHUE'S  PHILOSOPHY. 

Capt.  Forbes  Britton,  of  Corpus  Christi,  a  gallant  Texan 
ranger,  was  not  only  a  heroic  soldier,  a  prince  of  raconteurs,  but 
one  of  the  best  of  dancers.  He  was  peculiarly  fastidious  in  all 
his  ways,  either  business  or  social.  In  his  attire  he  was  a  perfect 
Chesterfield,  and  the  only  man  who  became  noted  for  the  atten 
tion  devoted  to  his  toilet  on  the  eve  of  battle.  I  fail  to  discover, 
in  reading  the  history  of  our  great  warriors,  one  who  ever  made 
a  point  of  wearing  a  ruffled  shirt  in  battle.  One  of  the  best 


REMINISCENCES    OV    L>AN    1UCE 

stories  I  ever  heard  him  tell  was  when  he  had  his  company  in 
the  Mexican  War,  under  General  Taylor.  On  a  certain  occasion 
there  was  a  station  not  far  from  Victoria.  Here  the  General 
issued  an  order  that  he  would  review  the  troops  on  a  certain 
morning.  He  had  often  heard  of  the  gallantry  of  Captain  Brit- 
ton's  company,  and  one  Timothy  Donohue,  who  evidently  was  an 
Irish  gentleman  of  culture,  but  who  became  demoralized  in  New 
Orleans.  Recruiting  officers  in  that  city  got  him  to  enlist  to  go 
to  Texas,  where  he  joined  Captain  Britton's  company.  On  the 
occasion  alluded  to  the  roll  was  called  and  all  answered  but  Tim 
othy  Donahue.  Captain  Britton  suspected  the  cause,  as  Tim 
would  sometimes  imbibe  too  freely  when  off  duty.  An  orderly 
was  dispatched  to  the  camp,  when  Tim  was  soon  seen  coming, 
staggering,  Avith  musket  on  his  shoulder.  He  fell  in  line  and  the 
Captain  addressed  him  in  very  stern  tones:  "  Timothy  Donahue, 
you  are  drunk  on  duty.  I  had  hoped,  on  this  occasion,  to  have 
General  Taylor  make  some  recognition  of  your  many  gallant 
deeds  by  shaking  hands  with  you,  but  here  you  are  drunk  on 
duty."  He  answered,  "Hist,  Captain!  Not  another  word.  I 
have  only  to  ask — how  do  you  expect  all  the  virtues  in  a  man  for 
thirteen  dollars  a  month?  " 

BEN  THORNBURG'S  FAME. 

At  the  age  of  ninety-seven  Ben  Thornburg  has  died  in  the 
Washington  County  Poor  House.  Although  having  rounded 
out  a  century  with  the  exception  of  three  years,  the  man's  only 
claim  to  fame  is  that  many  years  ago  he  whipped  Dan  Eice,  the 
showman.  It  was  not  a  great  feat.  It  brought  him  local  celeb 
rity,  but  nothing  like  so  much  as  Napoleon  won  by  being  de 
feated  instead  of  victorious  at  Waterloo.  Yet  Napoleon  and 
Thornburg  died  in  quite  similar  predicaments. 

However,  licking  Dan  Rice  is  not  necessary  to  make  all  the 
reputation  for  a  man  that  he  needs.  Fame  is  nothing  more  than 
a  place  in  history  and  in  the  mouths  of  the  people  who  talk.  It 
satisfies  vanity,  but  only  occasionally  brings  bread.  Hundreds 
of  young  Americans  who  are  comfortably  started  in  life's  battle 
and  making  business  move  successfully,  would  not  trade  their 
satisfying  incomes  for  Shakespeare's  world-wide  fame.  Fame, 
after  all,  comes  only  with  the  accomplishment  of  something  un 
common.  If  all  were  to  be  famous,  fame  would  be  common 
place.  Ben  Thornburg  grew  famous  through  his  trouncing  of 
Dan  Rice,  and  maybe  he  never  did  anything  else  m  his  life  but 
what  was  more  to  his  credit.  Millions  of  men  are  pegging  away 
day  after  day  doing  meritorious  things,  looking  after  their  house 
holds,  and  living  exemplary  lives.  They  make  no  name  for 


REMIX  ISCEXCES    OF    DAX    RICE  205 

themselves,,  because  they  are  not  whipping  circus  clowns,  leading 
armies,  wearing  their  hair  long  and  playing  football,  making  big 
winnings  in  pool  rooms,  etc.  But  they  serve  just  as  good  a  pur 
pose  in  the  world,  and  that  is  all  that  is  required.  Ben  Thorn- 
burg's  peculiar  fame  is  just  as  good  as  anybody's. 

MRS.  EVAXS. 

The  Evans  family,  of  Pittsburg,  was  a  noted  one  in  those  days, 
and  many  of  them  were  inventors,  and  it  was  Mr.  Rice's  personal 
friend,  George  Evans,  a  nephew  of  Mr.  Cadwallader  Evans,  who 
invented  the  adjustable  fire-ladder,  and  draws  a  royalty  on  it  at 
the  present  day.  Miss  Sarah,  a  daughter  of  Mr.  Cadwallader 
Evans,  was  considered  one  of  the  most  beautiful  women  in  Pitts- 
burg — indeed,  the  whole  of  the  Evans  family  were  distinguished 
for  their  physical  and  intellectual  charms.  Miss  Evans  married 
her  cousin  Oliver,  who  bore  the  same  family  name,  and  as  she 
still  continued  her  residence  in  Pittsburg  after  her  marriage, 
she  manifested  the  same  interest  in  Mr.  Rice's  welfare  that  ex 
isted  in  her  girlhood  days.  A  short  time  previous  to  her  hus 
band's  early  death,  not  enjoying  very  rugged  health,  she  decided 
to  go  and  spend  an  indefinite  time  for  recuperation  at  Ravenna, 
0.,  a  resort  not  far  from  Pittsburg,  and  Mr.  Rice  was  selected 
by  her  mother  to  accompany  Mrs.  Evans,  who  was  to  travel  by 
carriage.  Upon  her  arrival  at  the  hotel  the  proprietor,  Mr.  Mc- 
Kibben,  who  was  also  a  friend  of  the  family  and  had  been  advised 
of  her  coming,  paid  every  attention  and  furnished  every  comfort 
that  the  lady  could  desire.  On  account  of  her  personal  charms 
she  attracted  as  much  attention  at  Ravenna  as  she  did  at  her 
home  in  Pittsburg,  and  a  few  days  after  her  arrival,  as  she  sat 
on  the  porch  of  the  Ravenna  Hotel  one  afternoon,  Mr.  Rice  being 
still  in  attendance  on  her  there,  a  handsome  Kentuckian  of  dash 
ing  presence  and  captivating  address  drove  up  in  a  magnificent 
equipage.  Xo  sooner  had  he  alighted  than  his  eyes  fell  upon 
the  attractive  Mrs.  Evans  as  she  sat  apart  from  the  other  guests, 
and  the  gentleman  at  once  betrayed  an  interest  that  was  readily 
interpreted  by  the  observers  as  a  clear  case  of  "  love  at  first  sight." 
In  vain  he  entreated  Mr.  McKibben,  the  host,  to  present  him. 
The  answer  was  always  that  Mrs.  Evans  was  not  a  woman  to 
tolerate  any  breach  of  etiquette  committed  by  a  stranger,  but  the 
newcomer,  who  was  no  less  a  personage  than  Ten  Broeck,  the 
well-known  horseman,  persevered,  and  finally  recognizing  Mr. 
Rice  as  the  successful  race-rider  of  previous  years,  renewed  his 
acquaintance,  and  persuaded  that  young  man  to  deliver  a  note  to 
Mrs.  Evans  begging  the  honor  of  an  introduction. 

Mrs.  Evans  tore  the  note  into  fragments,  declaring  there  was 


20G  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

no  reply  necessary,  and  her  indignation  at  the  fact  of  Mr.  Rice 
being  used  as  the  instrument  of  such  an  undertaking,  together 
with  the  offensive  perseverance  of  Mr.  Ten  Broeck,  was  sufficient 
cause  for  her  to  shorten  her  stay  at  Ravenna.  She  was  relentless, 
and  when  Mr.  Rice  drove  her  back  to  Pittsburg,  a  few  days  after 
ward,  Ten  Broeck  was  unknown  to  her  save  by  reputation.  On 
examining  the  carriage  the  next  morning  after  their  return,  Mr. 
Rice  found  a  magnificent  solitaire  diamond  ring  in  a  corner  under 
the  carpet.  Soon  afterward  a  maid  came  from  the  Evans  man 
sion  to  inquire  if  the  jewel  had  been  found,  as  Mrs.  Evans  had 
missed  it  on  her  return.  Mr.  Rice  said  nothing,  but  put  the  ring 
into  his  pocket  and  went  to  the  Evans  house.  With  all  the 
freedom  of  his  impulsive  good  nature  he  asked  Mrs.  Evans,  with 
a  roguish  smile,  "  What  will  you  give  to  get  the  ring  back?" 
"  One  hundred  dollars,"  she  cried;  "  it  cost  sixteen  hundred." 
Mr.  Rice  said  nothing,  but  left  the  house,  leaving  Mrs.  Evans  in 
a  state  of  uncertainty.  After  he  thought  he  had  caused  her  suffi 
cient  anxiety,  he  finally  called  and  restored  to  her  the  solitaire, 
refusing,  of  course,  to  take  any  reward,  and  telling  her  that  he 
had  only  punished  her  a  little  for  her  cruelty  to  handsome  Mr. 
Ten  Broeck.  But  Mr.  Ten  Broeck's  case  was  hopeless,  though 
he  was  afterward  presented  to  Mrs.  Evans  in  Pittsburg  through 
the  courtesy  of  Mr.  McKibben.  Mrs.  Evans  was  early  left  a 
widow,  and  some  time  after  her  husband's  death  she  visited  Phila 
delphia,  where  she  stayed  at  the  Merchants'  Hotel,  which  was 
kept  by  McKibben,  who  had  previously  entertained  Mrs.  Evans  at 
Ravenna.  It  was  during  her  sojourn  in  Philadelphia  that  she 
married  McKibben,  and  thus  ended  a  romance  that  had  in  it  the 
sentiment  of  the  olden  time. 

JEAN  LAFITTE  JOHNSON. 

This  sketch  of  the  life  of  Johnson  will  compare  in  romantic 
interest  with  the  ideal  heroes  of  most  works  of  fiction.  His 
grandfather  was  the  famous  Jean  Lafitte,  the  celebrated  bucca 
neer  of  Barataria,  who  was  born  in  France,  either  at  St.  Malo  or 
Marseilles  in  1780.  There  is  uncertainty  about  his  early  career, 
and  accounts  vary,  but  the  most  authentic  describes  him  as  a  lieu 
tenant  of  a  French  privateer,  which  was  captured  by  a  British 
man-of-war  and  taken  into  an  English  port,  where,  with  the 
officers  and  crew  of  the  vessel,  he  was  thrown  into  prison  and 
confined  for  several  years  under  circumstances  of  peculiar  hard 
ship,  which  were  the  more  galling,  as,  long  before,  all  his  com 
rades  had  obtained  their  release.  His  resentment  thereat  and 
hatred  of  England  in  consequence,  inspired,  it  is  said,  his  subse 
quent  career,  and  the  important  service  he  did  the  United  States 
during  the  British  expedition  to  New  Orleans. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  207 

Upon  his  liberation,  in  consequence  of  peace  being  proclaimed 
between  France  and  Great  Britain,  he  obtained  a  privateer's  com 
mission  for  the  Carthagenian  government,  then  at  war  with 
Spain,  under  cover  of  which  he  is  said  to  have  carried  out  his 
revenge  by  the  capture  of  several  English  merchant  ships,  as 
well  as  those  of  Spain,  and  it  was  this  which  first  caused  him  to 
be  proclaimed  a  pirate,  although  there  is  no  authentic  record 
of  his  having  plundered  the  vessels  of  any  other  nationality.  Sub 
sequently  he  settled  in  New  Orleans  in  1807,  where,  it  is  said,  he 
worked  at  the  trade  of  a  blacksmith,  his  forge  being  located  at  the 
corner  of  Bourbon  and  St.  Phillip  Streets.  The  war  between 
France  and  Spain  caused  him  and  his  brother  Pierre,  who  was 
also  a  seafaring  man,  to  fit  out  another  privateer,  with  which  to 
prey  upon  the  rich  commerce  of  the  Spanish  possessions,  then 
the  most  valuable  and  productive  in  the  New  World.  At  that 
period  the  seas  were  swarming  with  these  pests  of  the  ocean,  and 
the  ships  of  neutral  nations  were  frequently  subjects  of  plunder, 
and  a  general  crusade  by  the  warships  of  maritime  nations  was 
instituted.  It  was,  therefore,  found  expedient  to  secure  some 
safe  harbor  into  which  they  could  escape  from  the  ships  of  war, 
and  where,  too,  they  could  establish  a  depot  for  the  smuggling 
and  sale  of  their  spoils.  The  little  bay  or  cove  of  Grand  Terre 
was  selected.  It  was  called  "  Barataria,"  and  several  huts  and 
storehouses  were  built,  and  cannon  planted  upon  the  beach.  It 
was  inaccessible  to  men-of-war,  and  it  was  near  the  city  of  New 
Orleans,  and  from  it  the  lakes  and  bayous  afforded  an  easy  water 
communication  nearly  to  the  banks  of  the  Mississippi,  within  a 
short  distance  of  the  city.  A  regular  organization  of  the  priva 
teers  was  established,  officers  were  chosen,  and  agents  appointed 
in  Xew  Orleans  to  enlist  men  and  negotiate  the  sale  of  goods. 

Gradually,  by  his  success,  enterprise,  and  address,  Jean  Lafitte 
obtained  such  ascendancy  over  those  fierce  and  lawless  men  that 
they  elected  him  their  commander.  It  is  not  intended  in  this 
sketch  to  relate  the  adventurous  career  of  Lafitte,  which  in  itself 
would  embrace  a  space  equal  to  that  employed  in  this  narrative. 
The  object  is  simply  to  trace  the  ancestry  and  origin  of  one  who, 
at  one  time,  was  intimately  connected  with  the  subject  of  these 
memoirs.  How,  through  the  agency  of  Lafitte,  the  Government 
of  the  United  States  was  put  into  possession  of  the  plan  of  cam 
paign  of  the  British,  in  the  contemplated  invasion  of  Louisiana, 
is  a  matter  of  history.  The  proverbial  ingratitude  of  Eepublics 
was  also  exemplified  in  its  treatment  of  him  and  his  followers, 
when  a  combined  naval  and  land  force,  under  the  command  of 
Commodore  Patterson  and  Colonel  Ross,  entered  the  bay,  and, 
as  the  Baratarians  would  not  fisfht  against  the  flag  of  the  United 
States,  seized  their  vessels,  filled  them  with  the  goods  found  upon 


208  KEMINJSCENCES    OF    DAN    EICE 

the  island,  and  made  captive  the  buccaneers.  But  Lafitte,  being 
forewarned,  was  not  there.  He  had  escaped  to  a  point  above 
New  Orleans,  known  as  the  German  coast,  in  one  of  the  vessels 
wherein  was  considerable  treasure.  That  he  was  offered  a  rich 
reward  by  the  British  authorities  to  aid  the  English  invasion, 
has  never  been  controverted,  and  that  he  dallied  with  them  until 
he  could  convey  their  plans  to  Governor  Claiborne  is  also  undis 
puted.  The  packages  of  Col.  Edward  Nichols,  Commander  of 
His  Britannic  Majesty's  land  forces,  and  of  Sir  W.  H.  Percy, 
commander  of  the  naval  forces  in  the  Gulf  of  Mexico,  dated 
September  1,  1814,  to  "  Mr.  Lafitte,"  and  forwarded  to  the  Gov 
ernor,  may  be  seen  in  the  records  of  the  United  States  District 
Court  in  New  Orleans.  Their  authenticity  was  at  first  doubted, 
but  afterwards  it  was  fully  established.  After  the  retirement  of 
Commodore  Patterson,  Lafitte  and  those  with  him  who  had  es 
caped,  reoccupied  Barataria,  and  subsequently  obtained  an  am 
nesty  and  pardon  of  himself  and  followers,  as  well  as  the  libera 
tion  of  his  brother  Pierre,  who  had  been  taken  prisoner,  and  in 
connection  with  a  United  States  officer,  he  was  employed  in  for 
tifying  the  passes  of  Barataria  Bay,  and  in  command  of  a  party 
of  his  followers,  he  rendered  efficient  service  in  the  battle  of 
January  8,  1815.  President  Madison  confirmed  the  amnesty 
which  had  been  granted  to  all  the  Baratarians  who  had  enlisted 
in  the  American  service,  but  Lafitte  never  received  any  further 
reward  for  his  services.  The  story  that  he  perished  at  sea  in  1817 
is  not  borne  out  by  facts.  It  is  known  that,  after  aiding  Jackson 
at  the  battle  of  New  Orleans,  he  founded  a  settlement  on  the 
site  of  the  present  city  of  Galveston,  where  there  is  a  grave  known 
till  this  day  as  the  Lafitte  grave.  This  rendezvous  was  broken 
up  by  a  naval  force  in  command  of  Lieutenant,  after  Commodore, 
Kearney,  in  1821,  but  there  is  nothing  authentic  of  the  after 
life  or  death  of  Lafitte,  who  is  described  as  a  man  of  noble  pres 
ence,  over  six  feet  high,  hazel  eyes,  and  black  hair,  and  winning 
and  affable  address.  The  terms  offered  him  by  the  British  com 
mander,  Colonel  Nichols,  for  his  cooperation  in  the  invasion  of 
Louisiana  were  $30,000  and  the  command  of  a  fine  brig  of  war, 
which  he  spurned,  only  to  be  afterwards  denounced  by  General 
Jackson  as  the  leader  of  a  "  hellish  banditti." 

Barataria  is  once  more  a  solitude,  a  few  dark  mounds  and  scat 
tered  debris  the  only  evidence  of  its  brief  state  of  active  and  law 
less  existence.  A  tradition  exists  that  there  is  wealth  hidden 
beneath  its  surface,  buried  by  the  buccaneers,  and  the  same  is 
said  of  the  Island  of  Galveston,  but  so  far  the  enterprising 
searchers  have  found  nothing  to  repay  their  efforts.  Lafitte  had 
an  only  daughter,  who,  at  an  early  age,  became  the  wife  of  one 
of  his  lieutenants,  a  young  man  named  Johnson.  The  fruit  of 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  209 

the  marriage  was  the  subject  of  this  brief  sketch,  Jean  Lafitte 
Johnson,  named  after  his  grandfather,  the  so-called  "  Pirate  of 
Barataria,"  and  a  girl  whose  subsequent  history  is  unknown. 
After  the  dispersion  of  the  buccaneers  at  Galveston,  Johnson  and 
his  wife  settled  in  New  Orleans  where  Jean  was  born  and  chris 
tened  by  a  priest  named  Hemacourt,  as  the  record  of  his  baptism 
will  show.  When  only  seven  years  old  his  mother  died,  and 
subsequently  his  father  removed  to  St.  Louis.  It  was  in  the 
spring  of  1849  when  Dan  Eice  was  in  the  city  that  Johnson  de 
termined  to  cross  the  plains  to  the  Pacific  slope.  He  had  been 
working  as  a  stevedore,  and,  as  at  that  time  the  California  fever 
was  strong,  he  determined  upon  an  effort  to  better  his  fortune 
in  the  golden  region.  His  son,  Jean,  was  then  a  youth,  but 
strong  and  active,  and  with  a  form  which  might  have  served  as 
a  model  for  Praxiteles.  Mr.  Eice,  who  knew  the  father,  saw  that 
he  might  readily  be  made  an  acquisition  to  the  arena,  and  he 
agreed  to  take  him  as  an  apprentice,  thus  relieving  the  father  of 
considerable  anxiety. 

Johnson  started,  and  it  was  the  last  seen  of  him,  as  on  his 
hazardous  journey  across  the  plains  he  was  murdered  by  the 
Indians,  at  least  such  was  supposed  to  have  been  his  fate.  In 
the  meantime  young  Jean  proved  himself  an  apt  scholar,  and  be 
came  a  favorite  with  the  public.  His  symmetrical  and  graceful 
figure  and  pleasant  and  ingenuous  countenance,  added  to  his 
speedily  acquired  skill  as  an  equestrian,  were  attributes  which 
bid  fair  to  exalt  him  above  most  of  his  fellow  professionals,  nor 
did  his  tutor,  Mr.  Eice,  relax  an  effort  in  perfecting  his  educa 
tion,  not  only  as  a  rider  but  in  the  higher  school  of  calisthenics. 
Before  he  had  served  a  year  of  his  apprenticeship,  Dan  Eice's 
horses  were  seized  at  Covington,  Ky,.  as  narrated  elsewhere,  and 
Jean  Lafitte  Johnson  became  the  equestrian  hero  of  the  "  One- 
Horse  Show."  He  shared  the  varying  fortunes  of  his  preceptor 
until  the  end  of  his  apprenticeship  in  1854,  when  he  left  and 
engaged  with  other  companies.  Finally  he  became  connected 
with  John  Eobinson's  Circus,  of  which  he  was  a  distinguished 
and  popular  member.  At  this  period  he  fell  in  love  with  an 
adopted  daughter  of  the  proprietor,  Maggie  Homer  by  name, 
whose  father  was  an  old  member  of  the  Cincinnati  police  force. 
She  was  a  fascinating  young  girl,  barely  turned  sixteen  summers, 
and  the  attachment  was  mutual,  for  Jean  was  at  that  time  a 
counterpart  of  "  James  Fitz  James,"  as  described  by  the  immortal 
author  of  the  "  Lady  of  the  Lake." 

"  Light  was  his  footstep  in  the  dance, 
And  firm  his  stirrup  in  the  lists, 
And  oh,  he  had  the  merry  glance, 
Which  seldom  lady's  heart  resists." 
14 


210  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

The  result  was  a  clandestine  marriage  which  was  discovered 
almost  immediately  after  the  performance  of  the  ceremony,  and 
before  an  hour  had  elapsed,  his  young  bride  was  torn  weeping 
from  him  by  the  Robinson  family,  and  he  himself  summarily 
discharged.  It  was  a  sad  termination  to  "  Love's  young  dream," 
and  a  cruel  persecution  of  a  couple  who  might  have  lived  happily 
and  together  fought  successfully  the  battle  of  life.  Of  the  two, 
poor  Jean  felt  it  most  poignantly,  Maggie's  nature  was  more 
elastic,  for  in  the  course  of  time  she  again  married,  and  became 
the  wife  of  "  Billy  Emerson,"  the  celebrated  Ethiopian  comedian, 
with  whom  she  lived  several  years.  But  it  is  presumed  that  her 
second  marriage  was  merely  one  of  convenience,  her  heart  was 
not  in  it,  and  finally  they  separated,  when  she  drifted  to  Xew 
York  and  became  one  of  the  most  noted  of  the  demi-monde.  But 
poor  Jean  Lafitte  never  rallied  from  the  blow  which  was  laid 
with  such  relentless  force  upon  his  devoted  head.  His  had  been 
a  pure  and  unselfish  love,  as  it  was  his  first.  From  that  time, 
pride,  ambition,  and  all  that  had  previously  incited  him  to  action, 
and  a  determination  to  achieve  name,  fame,  and  fortune,  lay 
dead  and  buried.  Life  had  lost  its  charm  and  he  became  a  reck 
less  castaway.  Had  the  shock  and  sorrow  killed  him,  or  even 
driven  him  madly  unconscious,  it  would  have  been  a  merciful 
dispensation,  but  he  lived  on  to  find  relief  and  f orgetf ulness  only 
under  the  baleful  influence  of  the  intoxicating  cup.  His  pro 
fession  was  abandoned,  and  he  became  a  wanderer  about  the 
streets,  begging  from  those  who  knew  him  in  happier  days  the 
wherewith  to  gratify  his  craving  for  the  liquid  damnation. 

A  circumstance  which  endears  itself  to  Mr.  Rice's  mind  as  an 
incident  of  his  boyhood  worth  remembering,  gives  the  present 
reader  an  insight  into  purity  of  heart  and  purpose,  that  existed 
in  so  many  families  that  belonged  to  the  old-time  chivalry.  It 
was  the  habit  of  Mr.  Rice,  as  he  {ravelled  continually,  to  entrust 
a  portion  of  his  money  with  some  responsible  person  for  safe 
keeping,  as  the  facilities  were  not  so  advantageous  for  depositing 
as  those  of  the  present  day.  Colonel  Jones',  of  Wheeling,  W. 
Va.,  wife  was  a  very  benevolent  lady,  whose  name,  in  connection 
with  his,  was  a  household  word  in  all  the  surrounding  country. 
She  was  especially  beloved  and  admired  for  her  kindness  of 
heart,  and  her  scrupulous  regard  in  acts  of  charity,  and  never 
neglected  a  trust  that  appealed  to  her  sense  of  honor.  Of  the 
many  who  enjoyed  her  confidence,  Mr.  Rice  was  one  of  the  num 
ber,  and,  as  he  was  a  great  favorite  on  account  of  his  cheerful 
disposition  and  sense  of  the  humorous,  she  took  great  interest  in 
his  affairs,  and  her  instructions  were  always  a  pleasure  to  con 
template  and  ponder  over.  A  few  days  after  Colonel  Jones  had 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  211 

been  laid  to  rest,  while  Mr.  Rice  was  making  his  preparations  to 
leave,  she  came  to  him  and  said,  "  My  boy,  before  the  Colonel 
was  taken  away,  he  told  me  that  if  anything  happened  to  him  to 
give  you  fifty  dollars  on  your  return,  and  here  it  is  in  gold.7'  Mr. 
Rice  thanked  her,  and  said  that  he  did  not  know  what  to  do  with 
it  as  he  was  travelling  almost  constantly  from  place  to  place,  and 
asked  her  to  keep  it  for  him,  as  she  had  done  on  other  occasions. 
She  readily  assented,  and  soon  after  Mr.  Rice  left  and  never  saw 
her  afterwards.  Some  time  had  elapsed  and  he  was  again  in 
stalled  in  Pittsburg,  when,  one  day  going  to  the  banking  house  of 
Holmes  &  Co.,  where  he  had  previously  deposited  his  money  form 
time  to  time,  he  was  notified  that  fifty  dollars  in  gold  had  been 
added  to  his  credit,  and  gave  him  a  letter  that  had  accompanied 
the  amount.  Which  letter  explained  that  Mrs.  Jones  did  not 
long  survive  her  husband,  and,  when  she  was  rapidly  declining, 
she  sent  the  money  to  Mr.  John  McCourtney,  of  Wheeling,  W. 
Ya.,  who  acted  in  the  capacity  of  confidential  agent  for  the  bank 
ing  house,  and  he,  knowing  that  Mr.  Rice  had  deposited  his 
money  with  them  previously,  put  the  amount  in  their  charge,  for 
which  Mr.  Rice  was  credited.  Thus  Mrs.  Jones  discharged  a 
duty  which  has  few  equals  in  these  days  of  perplexing  embarrass 
ments. 

It  was  at  the  Wheeling  races  that  young  Rice  met,  in  the  Vir 
ginia  Hotel,  his  former  patron,  Mr.  Elliott,  of  Baltimore,  and  his 
beautiful  wife,  Madame  Celeste,  whom  he  had  married  under 
the  following  romantic  circumstances: 

Mr.  Elliott  and  a  party  of  his  friends  attended  the  old  Bowery 
Theatre  in  Xew  York,  on  the  evening  of  June  27,  1837,  to  wit 
ness  the  performance  of  Madame  Celeste  in  the  play  of  "  The 
French  Spy."  The  fame  of  this  artist  had  preceded  her  in  this 
country,  and  she  was  creating  here,  as  she  had  in  Europe,  a  great 
sensation.  Not  only  by  her  pantomimic  action,  but  also  her 
artistic  display  of  terpsichorean  skill  and  fascination,  is  what 
caught  the  impressionable  nature  of  Mr.  Elliott,  and  he  pre 
sented  to  her  from  his  box,  as  she  responded  to  the  encore,  a  very 
valuable  diamond  ring  that  he  took  from  his  finger.  Mr.  T.  S. 
Hamblin,  the  manager,  who  was  present  in  the  box,  immediately 
went  back  on  the  stage  and  informed  the  lady  through  the  inter 
preter  that  the  gentleman's  designs  were  honorable,  then  return 
ing  to  the  box  he  invited  the  coterie  of  friends  to  the  green-room. 
Mr.  Elliott  was  then  introduced  to  the  great  artist,  who  invited 
him  and  his  friends  to  lunch  with  her  at  the  Hotel  de  Paris  on 
Broadway,  which  invitation  they  accepted.  While  on  the  way  to 
the  hotel,  Mr.  Elliott  made  a  bet  of  five  thousand  dollars  with  Mr. 
Harry  Sovereign  that  he  would  marry  the  lady  within  a  month, 


212  BEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

which  he  did,,  much  to  the  amusement  of  his  friends  and  the 
amazement  of  Mr.  Sovereign,  who  met  the  contract  with  all  the 
spirit  of  old-time  chivalry.  Mr.  Elliott  and  his  lovely  wife  lived 
together  several  years,  during  which  time  a  daughter  came  to 
grace  their  home.  She  was  educated  at  Baltimore,  and  married 
eventually  one  of  its  most  prominent  citizens.  Madame  Celeste 
returned  to  London  after  her  separation  from  Mr.  Elliott,  and 
continued  her  professional  career,  being  a  pronounced  favorite 
in  the  play-going  fraternity. 

Among  the  numerous  little  episodes  that  entered  the  opening 
career  of  his  early  manhood,  Mr.  Rice  mentions  one  in  which  he 
figured  largely  in  subduing  the  question  of  right  of  way  in  the 
public  thoroughfare,  in  one  locality  at  least,  and  which  was  es 
tablished  by  a  resort  to  honest  blows,  guided  by  scientific  rules 
that  made  the  results  most  emphatic  and  impressionable.  Con 
sequently,  he  was  the  conquering  hero  in  a  well-earned  combat, 
and  had,  for  an  opponent,  a  distinguished  statesman  in  embryo. 
In  the  early  days,  before  the  railroad  had  penetrated  the  remote 
districts,  the  main  towns  being  connected  by  different  stage 
roads,  there  was,  necessarily,  much  opposition  among  the  rival 
stage  lines  that  ran  on  scheduled  time  over  the  routes.  Promi 
nent  among  those  in  eastern  Ohio,  were  the  two  opposition  lines 
running  between  Columbus  and  Marietta.  One  under  the  inter 
ests  and  ownership  of  several  of  the  best  and  most  prominent  citi 
zens,  was  called  the  Hildebrand  Company  Stage  Line,  and  in 
cluded  the  landlord  of  the  Mansion  House,  Capt.  John  Lewis, 
John  Marshall,  owner  of  the  Horse  Ferry,  the  Barbour  Bros.,  and 
Mr.  Holmes,  a  prominent  merchant.  The  other  was  called  the 
Neil  Moore  &  Co.  Stage  Line,  and  the  divided  honors  of  the  two 
companies  were  about  equal.  The  route  at  one  point  lay  along 
the  Muskingum  River  and  the  overflow  after  storms  was  liable 
to  cause  a  crevasse  in  the  embankment,  and  thus  impair  the  stage 
road  so  that  only  one  vehicle  could  pass  at  a  time,  while  others 
waited  beyond  the  break.  The  feeling  of  opposition  ran  very 
high  between  the  drivers  of  the  rival  companies,  who  were  gen 
erally  strong,  hardy  boys  from  the  farms  in  the  adjoining  coun 
try,  and  the  excitement  was  very  great  when  two  opposition  stages 
happened  to  meet  at  a  crevasse  where  one  would  be  compelled 
to  stop  for  the  other  to  pass.  Many  a  wordy  battle  ensued,  which 
often  led  to  both  drivers  dismounting  and  indulging  in  an  em- 
pathic  "  rough  and  tumble  "  that  would  delay  the  passengers 
beyond  the  schedule  time,  and  each  company  found  it  necessary 
at  times  to  employ  guards  to  assist  in  preserving  the  law  of 
order.  On  such  occasions,  Mr.  Rice,  who  was  then  a  sturdy  lad 
and  not  afraid  of  entering  a  contest  with  the  largest  of  them, 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  213 

while  on  a  visit  to  the  Reppert  farm  near  Marietta,  was  asked  to 
accompany  Lemuel  Flowers,  of  the  Hildebrand  Co.  Line,  over 
the  route  to  McConnellsville  and  return.  With  his  great  love 
for  adventure,  and  a  spirit  fortified  for  any  emergency,  he  ac 
cepted,  and  thus  filled  the  office  of  guard  to  Flowers,  who  appre 
hended  difficulty  on  the  journey.  All  went  well  after  the  start, 
until  they  were  met  by  the  rival  stage  very  near  to  the  "  break  " 
in  the  road,  and  each  driver  urged  his  horses  with  all  speed  to 
reach  it  first.  The  Hildebrand  stage  arrived  on  the  scene  about 
twenty  feet  ahead  of  the  other,  and  halted  in  such  a  position  that 
his  rival  could  not  pass.  Then  it  was  that  "  Greek  met  Greek," 
the  difficulty  began,  and  the  guard,  springing  off  the  Neil  stage, 
took  hold  of  the  wheel  horses  of  the  Hildebrand  stage  to  make 
way  for  his  driver  to  pass,  when  Flowers  gave  the  reins  to  Mr. 
Rice  and  contended  that  he  had  the  right  of  way  as  he  had 
reached  the  "  break  "  first.  The  guard  contested  it  and  they 
soon  came  to  blows,  when  the  driver  of  the  Neil  stage  left  his 
horses  and  came  to  the  guard's  assistance.  He  was  a  tall,  gaunt 
young  man  nearly  six  feet,  and  was  known  about  the  country 
by  the  sobriquet,  of  "  Sockless  Jerry,"  because  of  his  proverbial 
aversion  to  those  useful  adjuncts  of  male  attire.  Young 
Flowers  could  master  the  guard  single-handed,  but  when  the 
giant  Ohian  came  to  the  rescue,,  he  was  not  equal  to  the  size 
of  the  reinforcement,  so  Mr.  Rice  found  it  necessary  for  him  also 
to  interfere  and  test  the  strength  of  the  adversary.  He  vaulted 
over  the  side  of  the  stage  just  as  Flowers  was  receiving  some  well 
directed  kicks  from  the  exasperated  driver  while  he  still  held  the 
guard  down,  and,  bringing  all  his  science  to  a  focus  between  the 
eyes  of  the  giant,  rolled  over  with  him  into  the  "  break  "  made 
by  the  crevasse,  and  implanting  his  scientific  blows  wherever  he 
could  find  a  place  to  do  so.  They  afterwards  lefr  him  in  the 
hands  of  the  guard  whom  Flowers  had  released.  The  passengers 
commended  Mr.  Rice  for  the  part  he  had  been  forced  to  take  in 
the  affair,  and  Flowers,  with  his  guard,  proceeded  on  the  journey 
to  McConnellsville,  reaching  there  on  schedule  time.  The  news 
of  the  combat  had  preceded  them,  however,  and  spread  in  every 
direction,  and  the  sterner  element  congregated  from  the  adjacent 
farms,  etc.,  to  see  the  heroes  of  the  day.  When  the  stage  was 
ready  for  the  start  on  the  return  trip,  the  people  all  gave  three 
cheers  for  Flowers  and  Mr.  Rice,  who  had  whipped  Jerry  Rusk, 
and,  on  arriving  at  Marietta,  they  learned  that  the  Neil  stage 
had  arrived  an  hour  behind  time.  The  driver  was  at  the  Mansion 
House  under  the  treatment  of  a  physician,  and  suffering  from  a 
badly  bruised  face,  while  the  guard  had  gone  to  his  home  to 
recruit  after  paying  the  penalty  of  his  defeat,  and  was  never 
known  to  show  a  disposition  to  be  a  stage  guard  again.  The  long, 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

notable  career  of  Mr.  Eusk  is  well  known,  and  his  name  was  a 
household  word  during  President  Benjamin  Harrison's  adminis 
tration,,  when  he  acted  as  Secretary  of  Agriculture.  His  early 
manhood  was  guided  and  actuated  by  good  motives  that  devel 
oped  him  into  a  brilliant  accessory  as  time  wore  on,  and  good 
deeds  were  the  inevitable  results  of  his  statesmanship.  Beloved 
for  his  hearty  good-humor,  he  was  always  approachable,  even  in 
his  official  state,  and  benevolence  was  imprinted  in  every  linea 
ment  of  his  features.  "  Uncle  Jerry  "  Rusk  was  a  personal  friend 
of  Mr.  Rice  all  through  his  life,  and  pleasant  social  fetes  have 
brought  them  many  times  together.  They  enjoyed  many  hearty 
laughs  over  the  stage  line  experience,  and  he  always  insisted  that 
if  Mr.  Rice  had  not  thrown  him  into  the  gully,  he  would,  to  use 
his  own  language,  "  have  got  away  with  him/'  In  recalling  to 
mind  the  death  of  General  Rusk — which  occurred  while  he  was 
under  the  influence  of  anaesthetics,  and  passing  through  a  surgical 
operation  performed  by  the  Surgeon-General,  Dr.  Hamilton,  for 
a  painful  malady — it  is  a  strange  coincidence  that  Mr.  Rice,  being 
a  victim  to  the  same  ailment,  passed  successfully  through  the 
same  operation  without  the  use  of  anaBsthetics  under  the  skilful 
surgery  of  the  eminent  Dr.  D.  M.  Barr,  of  Long  Branch,  X.  J. 

In  connection  with  the  episode  of  the  stage-line  difficulty,  an 
interesting  occasion  was  celebrated  the  next  day  in  Marietta, 
which  Mr.  Rice  attended  with  all  the  fires  of  patriotism  burning 
in  his  impulsive  nature.  The  great  Whig  mass  meeting  opened 
its  session  in  the  interest  of  Gen.  William  H.  Harrison  for  Presi 
dent,  and  the  Hon.  Thomas  Corwin  for  Governor.  The  speeches 
of  the  candidates  were  exceptionally  fine,  and  Mr.  Rice  regards 
Mr.  Corwin  as  the  most  able  and  eloquent  stump  orator  that  he 
ever  listened  to.  His  perfect  control  over  the  facial  expression 
has  never  been  equalled  either  on  or  off  the  stage.  Mr.  Rice  at 
that  time  had  the  reputation  of  being  a  fine  natural  singer,  and 
the  Committee  of  Arrangements  invited  him  to  go  on  the  stage 
and  join  in  singing  the  campaign  songs,  which  invitation  he 
cordially  acepted.  He  had  received  his  first  instructions  in 
politics  from  his  esteemed  old  friend  George  Reppert,  at  the 
farm,  and  there  had  instilled  in  his  mind,  a  proper  understanding 
of  the  principles  of  the  Albert  Gallatin  school.  The  crowds 
gathered  from  all  parts  of  the  country  to  attend  the  mass  meet 
ing,  and  Mr.  Rice  led  the  principal  vocalists  in  singing  the  mem 
orable  song  of 

"  Tippecanoe  and  Tyler  too, 
And  with  them  we'll  beat  little  Van. 
Van!  Van!  Van  is  a  used-up  man, 
And  with  them  we'll  beat  little  Van!  " 


**^ 


ADAM   FOREPAUGH 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  215 

Among  the  chorus  singers  on  that  occasion  was  Mr.  William 
Windom,  of  Belmont  County,  0.,  who  eventually  became  a  prom 
inent  lawyer,  and  acted  in  the  capacity  of  attorney  in  several 
instances  for  Mr.  Rice  when  he  was  in  the  circus  business.  It  is 
well  known  how  his  naturally  gifted  mind  gradually  developed 
into  that  of  a  superior  statesman,  and  he  afterward  became  Secre 
tary  of  the  Treasury  under  President  Benjamin  Harrison.  He 
was  previously  a  Cabinet  officer  under  President  Garfield,  and 
was  one  of  the  most  efficient  statesmen  in  manipulating  great 
issues  that  affected  either  the  State  or  Government  that  he  repre 
sented.  In  later  years,  when  Mr.  Rice  had  retired  from  his  public 
career,  he  renewed  the  acquaintance  with  Mr.  Windom,  and 
they  enjoyed  many  social  pleasantries,  and  exchanged  opinions 
on  the  prevailing  topics  of  the  period;  but,  upon  one  subject  they 
always  agreed,  they  had  both  sung  together  the  Whig  campaign 
song  of  18-iO,  and  still  retained  enough  of  the  old-time  spirit  to 
be  classed  in  the  school  of  Old  Line  Whigs. 

CAPT.  TOM  LEATHERS. 

Tom  Leathers,  the  brave  and  big-hearted,  has  gone  over  at  last 
to  join  the  majority  He  has  made  his  last  landing,  and  I  trust 
cast  anchor  in  the  tideless  port  of  heaven.  He  was  one  of  my 
firmest  and  most  faithful  friends.  He  was  a  man  of  superb  pres 
ence  and  sterling  character.  He  lived  in  the  most  romantic  and, 
at  the  same  time,  most  material  and  sensational  days  of  the  Re 
public,  lie  was  the  pioneer  pilot  of  the  Mississippi  River,  and 
far  and  away  the  best-known  and  most  popular  man  in  the 
imperial  domain  of  the  Mississippi  Valley,  whose  greatness  he 
did  so  much  to  develop,  and  in  which  he  was  so  majestic  a  figure. 
In  the  early  74()'s  I  first  made  his  acquaintance.  Words  are  in 
deed  too  weak  to  recite  in  detail  the  story  of  our  mutual  interest 
or  do  adequate  justice  to  the  memory  of  days  that  formed  the 
unfaltering  friendship  that  I  still  maintain  for  him.  The  follow 
ing  tribute  of  a  mutual  friend,  anent  the  announcement  of  his 
death  will  suffice  to  depict,  in  some  measure,  his  noble  character 
and  ennobling  career: 

"  The  popularity  and  fame  of  Captain  Leathers  were  a  house 
hold  word  in  the  Mississippi  Valley  and  the  staterooms  on  his 
boats  brought  premiums.  He  never  lost  a  life.  His  coolness 
and  presence  of  mind  never  failed  him  when  danger  menaced, 
which  was  often.  He  knew  his  business  thoroughly  and  his  rise 
was  due  to  merit.  His  first  boat,  I  think,  was  the  old  '  Princess/ 
of  which  he  was  mate  before  being  promoted  to  her  command. 
Tn  1858  he  built  the  first  'Natchez/  and  from  that  day  his 
prominence  as  a  river  man  was  assured.  When  his  boat  was 


216  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

burnt  on  the  Black  River  by  the  Federal  soldiers  just  after  the 
war  commenced,  Captain  Tom  was  ruined.  All  his  earnings 
were  invested  in  the  boat,  but  his  friends  stood  by  him  and 
bought  the  '  Magenta/  which  he  ran  for  a  while  until  the  second 
'  Natchez  '  was  afloat.  This  is  the  boat  which  took  part  in  the 
historic  race  with  the  '  Eobert  E.  Lee '  from  New  Orleans  to 
St.  Louis.  The  race  created  great  interest  throughout  the  whole 
country.  Along  the  river  the  big  race  occupied  public  attention 
exclusively  for  weeks  before  it  carne  off.  The  betting  on  the  out 
come  is  said  to  have  been  the  heaviest  ever  known. 

"  Captain  Leathers  commanded  the  '  Natchez  '  and  Captain 
Canon,  another  popular  boatman,  the  '  Lee/  Both  captains 
prepared  their  boats  with  care.  Every  extra  pound  was  taken  off 
the  '  Lee/  even  the  doors  and  shutters,  and  the  decks  of  both 
racers  were  piled  with  resinous  knots.  On  the  day  of  the  start 
the  Crescent  City  went  wild  with  excitement,  and  the  river  for 
twenty  miles  up  stream  was  filled  with  excursion  craft  loaded  to 
the  guards  with  admirers  of  the  rival  boats.  The  start  was  on 
June  30,  1870.  The  race  was  a  close  one  and  along  the  river  the 
people  came  miles  from  the  interior  to  catch  a  fleeting  glance  of 
the  flyers.  The  '  Lee '  won  by  several  hours,  making  the  dis 
tance  in  three  days,  eighteen  hours  and  fourteen  minutes,  ar 
riving  in  St.  Louis  on  July  4th,  where  her  crew  as  well  as  that 
of  the  defeated  i  Natchez/  received  the  freedom  of  the  city. 
After  this  the  '  Lee  '  *  wore  the  horns  '  as  queen  of  the  river,  but 
the  result  was  not  considered  entirely  conclusive.  The  '  Natchez  ' 
was  delayed  by  fog  during  the  first  part  of  the  race  and  the  coal 
ing  arrangements  of  the  '  Lee  '  were  much  better.  She  took  her 
coal  on  board  without  slackening  speed  from  fast  steamers  sta 
tioned  at  points  on  the  route,  while  the  '  Natchez  '  had  to  run  in 
and  take  coal  barges  in  tow.  This  was  the  last  great  race  on  the 
river." 

Captain  Leathers  successively  built  and  commanded  five  boats 
called  "  Natchez/'  all  of  them  magnificently  appointed  steamers. 
In  those  days  the  boats  monopolized  the  river  passenger  traffic, 
and  as  there  was  much  competition,  the  accommodations  were  of 
the  costliest  description,  and  the  tables  on  first-class  boats  were 
equal  to  those  of  the  best  hotels  of  the  present  da)7.  The  big 
saloon  cabins  every  night  after  supper  were  cleared  and  the  pas 
sengers  had  their  choice  of  amusements.  There  was  always  a 
good  band  for  dancing,  and  card  tables  stood  invitingly  in  the 
forward  saloon.  These  were  the  palmy  days  of  gambling,  and  the 
boats  were  patronized  by  all  kinds  of  professional  sports.  It  was 
difficult  for  a  captain  to  protect  his  passengers,  but  so  well-known 
was  Captain  Tom  Leathers'  determined  way  with  card  sharpers 
that  his  boats  enjoyed  comparative  immunity  from  the  swindling 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  217 

fraternity.  He  never  drank  to  excess  or  gambled  himself,  and  if 
a  passenger  was  fleeced  on  his  boat  the  accused  man  was  hunted 
up,  summarily  investigated,  and,  if  guilty,  the  boat's  nose  was 
pointed  to  the  nearest  bank  and  the  offender  "  walked  the  plank  " 
and  waded  through  mud  and  water  to  the  shore,  sometimes  many 
miles  from  a  settlement.  As  such  experiences  were  unpleasant, 
Captain  Tom's  boats  were  given  a  wide  birth  by  sharpers,  and 
consequent!}'  the  wealthy  river-front  planters  between  Vicks- 
burg  and  Xew  Orleans  preferred  the  '  Natchez  '  always  for  them 
selves  and  families. 

THE  CAPTAIN'S  HISTORY. 

Captain  Leathers  is  a  Kentuckian,  hailing  from  Covington, 
and  has  followed  the  river  since  childhood.  He  has  married 
twice.  His  second  wife  was  Miss  Claiborne,  and  a  member  of  the 
well-known  New  Orleans  and  St.  Louis  family  of  that  name. 
He  has  six  children  living,  three  boys  and  three  girls.  Captain 
Leathers  gave  up  active  life  on  the  river  ten  years  ago.  He  is 
now  largely  interested  in  the  company  running  boats  between 
Vicksburg  and  New  Orleans,  and  has  offices  in  the  latter  city. 
His  eldest  son,  Boland,  commands  a  stern-wheel  "  Natchez " 
belonging  to  the  line  and  is  a  chip  of  the  old  block.  The  other 
boys  likewise  followed  in  their  father's  footsteps  and  are 
popular. 

Captain  George  A.  Devol,  who  lived  for  many  years  in  New 
Orleans  and  travelled  constantly  with  Captain  Leathers  and  his 
compeers,  said  yesterday:  "  Yes,  I  am  well  acquainted  with  Cap 
tain  Leathers.  I  knew  all  of  the  old-time  river  captains  inti 
mately.  There  was  a  Captain  Canon — he  is  dead.  Captain 
Tobin  is  dead  also.  Captain  White  is  gone.  I  guess  Leathers 
is  about  the  only  one  left  of  his  generation.  And  what  splendid 
fellows  they  were,  brave,  generous,  and  charitable.  They  took 
the  greatest  pride  in  their  profession,  and  were  square  and  trust 
worthy.  I  could  never  get  one  of  them  even  to  accept  a  present. 
The  last  '  Natchez '  was  the  fastest  boat  ever  put  in  the  Missis 
sippi  River.  She  struck  a  snag  seven  or  eight  years  ago  while  in 
command  of  Boland  Leathers  and  was  a  total  loss.  Just  before 
she  started  on  her  last  trip  her  insurance  of  $125,000  was  reduced 
to  $20,000,  and  the  loss  was  a  bad  blow  to  the  old  captain.  He  is 
rich,  though,  and  lives  in  splendid  style  in  New  Orleans.  He  is 
just  the  same  unassuming  Captain  Tom  as  ever,  and  an  old 
friend  is  always  welcomed  heartily.  His  reminiscences  of  river 
life  are  fascinating.  I  hope  to  enjoy  another  'pipe'  and  a 
julep  with  Captain  '  Tom '  before  either  of  us  makes  our  last 
landing." 


218  REMINISCENCES    OF    BAN    RICE 


MIFFLIN  KENEDY. 

Another  brave,  strong,,  gentle  spirit  has  passed  away.  In  the 
fullness  of  his  ripened  years,  enriched  with  the  memories  of  a 
good  and  useful  life,  armored  with  the  respect  and  aureoled  with 
the  tender  love  of  legions,  in  the  twilight  of  his  life's  day  the 
end  came  and  dusk  melted  into  dawn. 

His  was  an  instructive  career,  an  inspiring  life. 

He  was  a  pioneer,  and  turned  from  the  peace  and  tranquility 
of  his  boyhood  home  to  mingle  in  the  sterner,  ruder  scenes  in  the 
border  land  of  romance  and  adventure.  He  had  within  him  the 
same  inquiring,,  adventurous  blood  that  set  Drake  and  Raleigh 
afloat  on  the  unknown  seas  and  spurred  Columbus  when  he 
turned  his  back  to  the  sun  and  set  the  Star  of  Empire  forever 
in  the  West. 

In  a  time  and  country,  and  among  a  people  where  might  was 
often  right,  he  only  used  his  influence  and  power  to  make  them 
synonymous. 

There  is  not  a  single  unjust  or  oppressive  act  debited  on  the 
ledger  of  Mifflin  Kenedy's  life. 

He  was  early  thrown  amid  associates  where  violence  was  not 
uncommon;  he  never  gave  nor  took  a  blow.  It  was  known  that 
he  possessed  a  resolute  will,  an  iron  nerve,  and  a  superb  courage. 
He  commanded  respect.  His  heart  was  as  tender  as  a  woman's. 
He  inspired  affection. 

He  knew  friendship's  sacred  meaning.  To  his  friends  he 
was  as 

"  Constant  as  the  Northern  Star, 
Of  whose  true,  fixed,  and  resting  quality 
There  is  no  fellow  in  the  firmament." 

Hatred  was  a  luxurious  dissipation  of  the  soul  from  which  his 
spirit  revolted.  He  abhorred  deceit,  dishonesty,  and  dishonor, 
and  when  he  found  them  in  any  human  being  he  shunned  him. 

His  charity  was  as  wide  as  the  sky,  and  wherever  he  found 
human  suffering,  human  misfortune,  his  sympathy  fell  upon  it 
as  the  dew. 

Humanity  is  better  because  he  lived. 

He  never  sought  nor  held  any  political  office.  This  alone 
entitles  him  to  distinction.  But  he  was  keenly  alive  to  the  duties 
of  American  citizenship,  and  within  the  scope  of  his  influence 
few  moves  on  the  political  chessboard  were  made  without  his 
advice,  given  always  for  good,  always  for  right. 

His  time  and  labor  and  money  had  been  freely  given  to  bring 
progress  and  prosperity  to  this  country  and  its  people,  and  his 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  219 

hopes  were  centred  in  their  upbuilding  and  betterment.  It  is 
pitiful  that  he  could  not  have  stayed  to  see  the  material  regen 
eration  of  those  whom  he  had  led  and  loved  and  served  so  long. 
Just  now  when  every  sign  points  to  fairer  weather,  when  the 
commercial  hilltops  herald  the  coming  of  the  better  day,  when 
the  seed  he  sowed  in  generous  wisdom  is  ripening  into  bounteous 
harvest,  when  the  people,  emerging  from  the  wilderness  of  doubt 
and  despair,  behold  just  beyond  the  glint  and  gleam  of  the  prom 
ised  land,  his  leadership  is  still  needed,  his  voice  and  presence 
will  be  sadly  missed. 

"  One  blast  upon  his  bugle  horn 
Were  worth  a  thousand  men." 

Mifflin  Kenedy  was  a  keen,  sagacious  business  man.  He  ac 
cumulated  wealth,  but  he  used  money — he  never  abused  it.  Upon 
his  soul  selfishness  left  not  a  single  sordid  stain.  He  loved  the 
beautiful,  and  wealth  harnessed  literature,  art,  and  science  to  his 
bidding. 

DAN  EICE,  ESQ.,  Girard,  Pa. 

My  dear  Sir:  You  must  not  think  that  I  have  forgotten  your 
kindness.  I  write  now  to  say  that  it  will  be  impossible  for  me  to 
be  present  on  the 'first  day  of  November,  when  the  monument 
you  propose  to  raise  at  Girard  to  the  heroic  defenders  of  the 
Republic  is  to  be  dedicated.  My  time  is  too  much  occupied  with 
newspaper  and  other  public  matters  to  allow  me  to  leave  even  for 
a  moment.  I  trust  the  celebration  may  be  worthy  of  the  noble 
object  you  have  in  view.  For  myself,  I  can  say,  having  watched 
your  course  during  the  whole  rebellion,  that  your  services  deserve 
to  be  remembered  and  honored  by  the  country.  Constantly 
meeting  vast  audiences,  men,  women,  and  children  of  all  parties, 
nothing  but  loyalty  has  ever  fallen  from  your  lips.  Even  the 
early  difficulties  that  beset  your  path  were  removed  by  the  con 
sistency  and  courage  with  which  you  illustrated  great  principles. 
I  remember  well,  in  the  darkest  hours  of  the  war,  how  you 
cheered  the  hearts  of  those  who  saw  and  heard  you.  Well  I  do 
remember  accompanying  you  to  see  Mr.  Lincoln  when  you  took 
him  the  draft  on  the  United  States  Treasury  over  from  General 
Fremont  for  $32,000  in  payment  of  steamboat  "  James  Eay- 
mond  "  which  he  forced  into  service  at  St.  Louis,  and  how  grate 
ful  he  and  Mr.  Seward  and  Mr.  Stanton  were  when  you  asked 
them  to  distribute  it  to  the  widows  and  orphans  of  the  soldiers. 
Again  regretting  that  I  will  not  be  able  to  be  present  on  the  first 
of  November,  I  am,  my  dear  sir,  very  truly  yours, 

SIMON  CAMERON. 

Washington,  October  23,  1865. 


220  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAX    RICE 

DAN  RICE,  ESQ.,  Xew  York. 

Dear  Sir:  1  fully  appreciate  your  claim  to  be  called  a  "  public 
man,"  and,  in  common  with  the  great  mass  with  whom  you  are  so 
constantly  in  intercourse,  recognize  the  extent  and  value  of  your 
services  as  a  public  man.  Whatever  may  have  been  Stanton's 
true  sentiments  affecting  the  admonition  and  advice  you  prof 
fered  the  Government  involving  Southern  and  Western  condi 
tions,  I  frankly  disavow  any  suspicion  of  insincerity  as  to  your 
purpose  in  presenting,  as  you  diet,  with  so  eloquent  and  forceful 
emphasis,  the  startling  facts  concerning  his  own  personal  safety. 
The  ears  of  public  men  are  honeycombed  these  days  with  similar 
rumors.  Doubtless  this  may  be  explanatory  of  his  somewhat 
heated  reply — that  if  you  were  a  "  public  man  "  you  might  have 
learned  to  laugh  such  threats  to  scorn. 

It  is  unnecessary  for  me  to  say  more  to  one  of  your  intelligence, 
tact,  and  courage,  than,  go  ahead  as  you  began  in  your  career  of 
success. 

With  assurances  of  my  appreciation  of  your  friendly  expres 
sions,  Very  respectfully  yours, 

S.  A.  DOUGLAS. 

Washington,  July  30,  1861. 

REMINISCENCES  OF  HALF  A  CENTURY  AGO.  THE  VENERABLE 
SHOWMAN  WRITES  TO  His  OLD  FRIEND,  HON.  S.  NEW 
TON  PETTIS. 

The  following  letter  has  been  received  by  Hon.  S.  Xewton 
Pettis,  of  this  city,  from  Colonel  Rice,  in  his  day  the  greatest 
circus  clown  known,  and  always  a  favorite  here.  As  is  generally 
known,  Mr.  Rice  was  born  and  raised  in  Girard,  Erie  County. 

LONG  BRANCH  CITY,  X.  J.,  September  27. 
HON.  S.  XEAVTON  PETTIS. 

Dear  Old  Friend:  I  had  long  thought  you  an  inhabitant  of 
the  city  of  the  dead,  where  marble  shafts  bespeak  the  departed 
great,  statesmen  loyal  and  those  of  craft,  had  all  succumbed  to 
nature's  mandate,  but  thanks  to  a  mutual  friend,  Calvin  J. 
Hinds,  attorn ey-at-law  at  Girard,  Erie  County,  who  sent  to  me 
an  Erie  paper  containing  glad  tidings  that  you  still  live,  though 
on  "  crutches,"  therefore  allow  me  to  congratulate  you.  I  trust 
that  you  will  soon  be  able  to  abandon  them,  and  that  your  exist 
ence  on  this  "  mundane  sphere  "  will  be  painless  and  that  your 
great  nerve  and  physical  activity  will  carry  you  into  a  grand  and 
ripe  old  age,  enabling  you,  when  the  time  arrives  to  shake  off 
this  mortal  coil,  to  look  back  upon  a  well-spent  life  with  a  heart 
full  of  hope.  I  have  often  thought  of  you  and  the  many  social 


KEMIXISCEXCES    OF    DAN     RICE 

pleasantries  we  have  enjoyed  in  the  delightful  past.,  and  as  Moore 
says: 

"  Let  fate  do  her  worst,  there  are  moments  of  joy, 
Bright  dreams  of  the  past  that  she  cannot  destroy, 
That  come  in  the  night  time  of  sorrow  and  care, 
That  hring  back  the  features  that  joy  used  to  wear, 
Long,  long  be  my  heart  with  such  memories  filled, 
Like  the  vase  in  which  roses  have  long  been  distilled; 
You  may  break,  you  may  shatter  the  vase  if  you  will, 
But  the  scent  of  the  roses  will  clin    to  it  still." 


My  dear  judge,  the  joy  to  me  was  unspeakable  when  I  read 
the  enclosed  newspaper  clipping  which  answered  a  letter  of  in 
quiry  as  to  your  whereabouts,  if  living.  The  accident  you  met 
with  came  very  near  causing  a  different  report  to  reach  me.  How 
sad  it  is  to  hear  of  a  person,  especially  one  who  has  lived  a  life 
of  usefulness,  passing  out  of  this  life  when  years  of  experience 
have  made  him  doubly  dear  to  the  community  at  large,  and  it  is 
thus  in  your  case.  Had  it  been  a  report  of  your  having  left  this 
sublunary  world  to  join  the  great  majority  in  the  dim  and  mys 
terious  region  upon  the  other  side  of  Styx,  I,  in  common  with  all 
who  know  you  best,  would  have  mourned  the  loss  of  one  who  was 
useful  to  his  fellow-man,  and  an  honor  to  his  country. 

And  yet  why  grieve  over  the  departed  spirit  of  him  whose 
exalted  virtue  and  underlying  faith  in  the  blood  of  Calvary  are 
an  earnest  of  beatitude  to  come?  And  why  should  sinners 
mourn  the  Christian  dead,  who,  having  shaken  off  life's  weary 
load,  mount  to  the  regions  of  eternal  bliss  to  rest  upon  the 
bosom  of  their  God? 

I  am,  and  have  been,  engaged  in  writing  my  history,  which  is 
about  ready  to  be  placed  in  the  hands  of  my  biographer  to  revise 
and  compile,  and  then  the  publisher  takes  it  and  prints  in  the 
best  leading  style  for  the  world's  amusement  and  instruction. 
And  now,  as  you  are  aware,  I  have  labored  over  half  a  century 
under  a  circus  tent,  within  a  radius  embracing  forty-two  and  a 
half  feet  of  diameter,  to  promote  the  happiness  of  my  fellow- 
man  in  the  rapidly  progressing  ages,  and  I  now  leave  behind  me 
a  work  which  has  almost  exhausted  my  pleasure-freighted  mind, 
in  order  to  meet  the  demands  that  have  emanated  from  my  ex 
perience  and  career  in  the  jesting  world,  and  when  I  have  passed 
"  to  the  bourne  from  which  no  traveller  returns,"  I  will  have  left 
a  memento  which  will  cause  all  who  read  to  smile  at  the  vagaries 
of  the  clown,  DAN  EICE. 

By  dictation,  per  private  secretary,  M.  W.  B. 

P.  S.  —  I  would  be  more  than  pleased  to  receive  a  few  lines 


222  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

from  you,,  and  to  hear  of  your  perfect  restoration  to  health,  and 
my  good  wishes  follow  you  to  that  end.      Truly  yours, 

DAN  RICE, 

Per  M.  W.  B. 

The  older  class  of  our  citizens,  notably  Col.  James  E.  McFar- 
land,  James  G.  Foster,  and  J.  D.  Gill,  will  probably  call  to  mind 
the  incident  that  originated  the  pleasant  relations  referred  to  by 
Mr.  Rice  as  having  long  existed  between  him  and  Judge  Pettis. 
About  1852,  Colonel  Rice,  while  in  the  zenith  of  his  professional 
glory  and  prosperity,  advertised  to  give  three  performances  on 
the  Diamond  in  one  day — morning,  afternoon,  and  evening.  In 
the  morning,  soon  after  the  Colonel's  pavilion  on  the  Diamond 
was  pitched,  Hon.  John  W.  Howe,  as  attorney  for  Judge  David 
Derickson,  had  Rice  arrested,  charged  with  maintaining  a 
nuisance  in  the  square.  William  II.  Davis,  Esq.,  appeared  for 
Rice,  but  the  magistrate,  W.  D.  Tucker,  decided  that  Rice  must 
either  move  his  tent,  give  bail,  or  go  to  jail.  At  that  moment 
the  constable  saw  Mr.  Pettis  passing  the  office,  and  said  to  Rice, 
"  There  goes  a  young  man  who  has  a  great  deal  of  snap  in  him, 
and  I  would  advise  you  to  call  him  in,"  and  Rice  replied,  "  Do 
so."  Pettis  looked  at  the  papers  and  directed  the  magistrate  to 
make  out  the  jail  commitment,  and  asked  the  constable  to  come 
by  his  office  en  route  for  the  jail.  "When  the  constable  and 
Colonel  Rice  reached  the  office,  Pettis  joined  them  with  a  petition 
for  a  writ  of  habeas  corpus,  which  Judge  Adrain  soon  allowed, 
and  gave  notice  to  Mr.  Howe  that  a  hearing  would  take  place  in 
ten  minutes,  upon  the  writ  looking  to  and  praying  for  the  dis 
charge  of  Rice  from  the  commitment. 

Upon  the  appearance  of  Mr.  Howe,  Mr.  Pettis  made  a  speech 
of  a  few  minutes,  charging  that  the  interference  with  Mr.  Rice's 
business  was  unauthorized,  unlawful,  unconstitutional,  and  in 
violation  of  the  bill  of  rights,  and  concluding  with  the  statement 
that  Mr.  Rice's  bills  were  out  for  Waterford  the  next  day,  and 
Erie  the  following  day,  and  then  sat  down  to  hear  what  Mr. 
Howe  might  have  to  say  against  Mr.  Rice's  discharge.  As  Mr. 
Howe  rose,  Judge  Adrain  adressed  him  as  follows: 

"  Mr.  Howe,  be  brief,  be  brief,  my  mind  is  made  up.  Mr.  Rice 
cannot  be  deprived  of  his  liberty  in  any  such  way.  He  has  to 
show  in  Waterford  to-morrow,  and  it  is  my  duty  to  discharge 
him."  Mr.  Howe,  it  is  said,  accepted  the  inevitable  gracefully, 
fell  back  in  good  order  without  saying  a  word,  although  joining 
in  the  general  applause  that  followed  the  judge's  decision,  and 
Rice  went  scot  free.  The  whole  scene  was  reproduced  by  Dan 
that  forenoon,  afternoon,  and  evening  in  the  ring,  to  the  amuse 
ment  of  everybody  but  Judge  Derickson. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  223 

DEAR  MR.  RICE: 

Yesterday's  "  Enquirer  "  contained  the  enclosed  slip  which  I 
forward  to  you  with  the  best  wishes  of  an  unknown  friend.  I 
cannot  but  wish  to  congratulate  any  being  who  does  his  best  to 
make  merry,  even  for  a  little  while,  sad  hearts  and  gloomy 
mortals. 

Stored  away  in  the  dreamland  of  my  memory  are  many  photo 
graphs,  and  among  them  is  a  cheering  one  in  which  you  figure 
conspicuously,  and  your  name  always  brings  forward,  possibly 
even  you  may  not  have  forgotten  it.  The  incident  occurred  back 
in  the  fifties.  John  Robinson  wanted  to  have  his  circus  in  the 
west  end  of  our  city  and  the  most  suitable  place  in  his  mind  was 
a  vacant  portion  of  my  father's,  Samuel  H.  Taft,  lumber  yard, 
so  Mr.  Robinson  requested  as  a  favor  the  use  of  it,  without  men 
tioning  any  remuneration.  My  father  was  a  great  lover  of  practi 
cal  jokes,  so  in  return  requested  the  privilege  of  inviting  a  few  of 
his  friends,  his  signature  being  all  that  was  necessary  on  the 
ticket.  Then  his  big  heart  warmed  towards  children  who  were 
always  his  friends,  and  poor  people,  and  he  determined  to  give 
them  the  memory  of  at  least  one  circus  in  their  lives.  So  he 
sent  word  to  all  the  schools  of  Green  Township  to  close  on  a 
certain  day  to  allow  the  children  to  attend  en  masse,  as  well  as  a 
general  invitation  to  the  whole  of  that  township  to  come  to  the 
circus,  all  with  tickets  with  his  signature  to  be  admitted  free. 
Only  please  call  early  at  his  office  to  avoid  crowding  and  give  him 
a  chance.  Though  but  a  child,  I  well  remember  the  comical 
sight  of  wagon  after  wagon  of  every  conceivable  style  filled  to 
overflowing  with  chairs  on  which  the  country  people  were  seated 
fairly  choking  up  Western  Row  (now  Central  Avenue).  Father 
was  rushed  from  early  morning  till  after  circus  time  signing.  He 
said  Robinson  was  at  first  mar/,  but  finally  the  situation  got  too 
overwhelming  for  words  even  for  Robinson.  Father  said  he 
never  had  but  one  regret  about  it  and  that  was  that  he  had  not 
invited  the  whole  of  Hamilton  County.  The  actors  enjoyed  the 
joke  and  did  their  best,  so,  for  the  pleasure  you  gave  that  day,  I 
wish  you  a  long  and  happy  life. 

Most  cordially, 

EMMA  TAFT  TAYLOR. 

Cincinnati,  331  Park  Ave.,  Walnut  Hills,  Dec.  9,  1894. 

GIRARD,  ERIE  COUNTY,  PA.,  Nov.  22,  1867. 
Messrs.  C.  I.  TAYLOR  and  T.  G.  STEVENSON,  Editors  "Ionia 

County  Sentinel,"  Ionia,  Mich.: 

I  cannot  address  you  as  "  gentlemen,"  as  you  have  both 
stamped  yourselves  as  mendacious  blackguards  and  malicious 


224  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

liars,  by  the  unjust,  cowardly,  and  unprovoked  assault  upon  me 
in  your  paper,  a  copy  of  which  has  just  reached  me  through  a 
friend. 

Neither  can  I  ask  you  to  give  me,  through  your  columns,  an 
opportunity  to  refute  your  charge  that  I  abuse  religion  and  its 
followers,  or  entertain  feelings  of  animosity  toward  the  colored 
people,  for  the  reason  that  knowing  your  allegations  to  be  ut 
terly  false,  and  simply  a  scurrilous  dodge  to  manufacture  a  capi 
tal  for  the  party  of  obstructionists,  political  thugs,  and  thieves, 
of  which  you  are  both,  in  intellect  and  character  and  habits,  such 
eminently  fit  representatives,  you  would  not  dare,  of  course,  al 
though  you  may  lie  about  that  too,  to  give  me  the  benefit  of  a 
contradiction.  I  am,  therefore,  compelled  to  resort  to  the  only 
other  public  way  left  of  branding  and  exposing  your  villainy. 

As  far  as  you  are  individually  concerned,  to  notice  your  libel- 
ous  attack  would  be  a  condescension  I  should  never  think  of 
granting,  and  that  I  now  accord  you  even  a  brief  moment  of  con 
temptible  notoriety  is  due  solely  to  the  fact  that,  unfortunately 
for  both  the  reputation  of  the  Press  and  the  good  of  society,  you 
have  the  facilities  for  perpetuating  and  disseminating  your 
slanderous  lies. 

It  is  not  because  I  do  not  respect  true  religion  and  its  followers 
that  you  deliberately  violate  the  ninth  commandment  in  assailing 
me,  but  because  I  will  not  bow  down  and  worship  the  idol  with  the 
face  of  brass  and  feet  of  clay  which  you  have  set  up,  as  now,  as 
your  National  God,  and  cry,  "  Slay!  Slay!  "  before  it  when 
resistance  has  ceased,  and  through  the  murder  and  oppression  of 
my  countrymen  I  may  taste  official  pap. 

My  religion  is  that  of  the  Bible  which  teaches  forgiveness  and 
charity;  yours  that  of  Judas  to  betray  and  steal.  Born  of  the 
flesh-pots  of  Egypt,  the  bastard  offspring  of  shoddy  and  central 
ization,  it  is  at  once  the  creed  of  the  desperate  and  the  damned; 
the  prelude  to  destruction  and  the  battle-cry  of  Hell. 

You,  as  its  apostles  and.  proteges,  are  expected  to  blaspheme 
at  and  howl  against  every  sentiment  of  Christian  patriotism  and 
honest  loyalty,  and  still  divided,  distracted,  and  almost  ruined 
country,  a  betrayed  soldiery,  and  an  impoverished  treasury,  tes 
tify  well  to  the  Devil,  your  master,  that  you  are  indeed  his  faith 
ful  servants. 

Liars  and  tricksters  that  you  are,  you  charge  me  with  cherish 
ing  unkindly  sentiments  towards  the  colored  people.  Let  us 
compare  records,  if  you  dare.  I  built  the  first  church  for  slaves 
ever  erected  in  this  country.  I  have  freely  given  to  educate  and 
elevate  the  colored  race  to  a  standard  of  intelligence  justifying 
their  admission  to  the  rights  of  citizenship,  and  I  have  opposed 
constitutional  amendments  proposing  to  immediately  and  reck- 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  225 

lessly  confer  it  because  I  solemnly  believe  I  am  acting  for  their 
best  interests,  as  well  as  that  of  the  whole  community. 

What  have  you  done  for  them?  Taxed  the  country  so  that 
they  might  learn  crime  through  lives  of  idle  dependence  upon 
public  charity;  encouraged  them  to  lawless  violence  by  inflam 
matory  appeals  and  promises  of  plunder;  undertaken  to  arm  them 
with  a  weapon  both  against  the  country  and  themselves  by  plac 
ing  the  ballot  in  their  ignorant  and  reckless  hands.  And  for 
what?  To  ensure  their  freedom  and  their  rights  before  the  law? 
To  establish  a  great  principle  or  correct  a  great  wrong?  Xot  so, 
ye  liars,  demagogues,  hypocrites,  and  gamblers,  for  the  seamless 
mantle  of  Liberty!  You  would  betray  them  as  you  have  betrayed 
your  country.  You  would  make  them  an  instrumentality  for  the 
revival  of  civil  war,  well  knowing  in  your  black  hearts  that  they 
must  certainly  be  crushed  to  atoms  in  the  sanguinary  and  fratri 
cidal  struggle,  murdered,  that  with  their  blood  you  may  patch 
up  your  broken  power  and  establish  another  interregnum  of  ras 
cality.  You  would  make  the  negro  believe  himself  better  than 
the  white  man,  and  leave  him  far  lower  in  the  scale  of  humanity 
than  he  is,  weighed  down  forever  with  the  ponderous  load  of 
your  iniquity  and  ingratitude. 

But,  thank  God!  you  have  utterly,  signally,  and  miserably 
failed.  It  is  but  natural  that  in  the  agony  of  your  despair  and 
defeat  you  should  hiss  and  snap  your  fangless  jaws  at  the  hand 
which  has,  in  a  humble  way,  been  instrumental  in  bringing  that 
righteous  judgment  of  the  people  upon  you.  Twin  serpents 
torn  from  the  bodies  of  the  Furies,  by  the  hand  of  Discord,  and 
fleeing,  surcharged  with  venom,  in  our  midst,  you  are  at  last 
scratched  and  the  cheering  spectacle  by  your  death  writhings  is 
a  source  of  thankfulness  and  congratulation  to, 

One  of  your  smiters, 

DAN  RICE. 

A  correspondent,  writing  to  the  Philadelphia  "  Inquirer,"  says, 
"  I  attended  a  public  meeting  of  the  Union  men  in  Mason  City, 
Va.,  a  few  days  since,  and  among  those  who  spoke  was  a  gentle 
man  by  the  name  of  Rice,  who  the  venerable  chairman  introduced 
as  a  citizen  from  Erie  County,  Pa.,  the  Keystone  State.  Of 
course,  as  a  Pennsylvanian  I  felt  an  interest  in  the  man,  so  there 
fore  I  gave  his  remarks  more  than  ordinary  attention.  He  was  elo 
quent,  powerful,  and  easy  in  his  address  and  manner,  and  won 
the  admiration  of  all  who  surrounded  his  rostrum.  His  practi 
cal  knowledge  of  the  habits  of  men  in  different  localities,  and  the 
system  he  pursued  in  pointing  out  the  bitter  possibility  of  the 
success  of  secession,  was  no  less  significant  for  its  originality 
than  its  truthfulness.  He  told  what  the  manufacturing  North 
15 


226  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    EICE 

could  do,  and  how  essential  the  activity,  genius,  and  skill  of  her 
people  were  to  the  welfare  of  the  great  agricultural  territory  of 
the  '  Sunny  South/  He  did  not  abuse  or  ridicule  any  people 
for  their  peculiarities,  or  scoff  at  the  manners  and  conventional 
ities  of  those  who  live  in  certain  localities.  He  showed  himself  a 
Union  man,  who  had  made  the  history  of  his  country  his  study, 
whose  object  was  to  preserve  it  whole  and  undivided,  and  cause 
it  to  go  *  conquering  and  still  to  conquer.'  I  am  told  that  Mr. 
Eice  has,  for  some  time,  been  hard  at  work  speaking  for  the 
Union,  leaving  the  '  Institution  '  to  run  itself.  He  is  not  an 
enthusiast,  neither  does  he  appear  like  a  man  who  was  laboring 
for  the  gratification  of  personal  ambition  or  pecuniary  advan 
tage.  To  speak  plainly,  he  talks  like  a  well-informed,  educated 
gentleman,  who  knows  what  he  is  talking  about,  and  who  works 
for  the  love  of  the  cause  he  has  enlisted  in.  I  do  not  know 
whether  he  has  a  desire  for  office,  and  I  presume  he  has  not,  but 
it  occurred  to  me  that  a  man  like  him,  who  has  travelled  so  far, 
has  observed  so  much,  and  was  so  familiar  with  the  wants,  habits, 
and  manners  of  the  people  of  all  localities,  could  not  speak  in 
vain  among  the  lawgivers  and  sage  councils  of  the  nation. 

"Perhaps  the  next  place  I  may  encounter  this  rising  young 
man,  Mr.  Dan  Eice,  may  be  in  the  State  Senate,  or  in  the  Halls 
of  Congress.  More  unlikely  things  have  happened,  and  men  of 
far  less  ability  and  character  have  been  honored  in  that  way. 
Depend  upon  it,  that  Eice  will  make  his  mark,  and  turn  his 
abilities  to  good  account." 

NEW  ORLEANS,  February  12,  1851. 

Dear  Sir:  Inclosed  find  my  check  for  five  hundred  dollars  on 
the  Canal  Bank  of  this  city,  given  as  a  small  evidence  of  my  ap 
preciation  of  the  noble  cause  you  are  engaged  in.  May  God  in 
his  goodness  prosper  you.  Although  a  circus  clown,  I  can  sym 
pathize  with  those  who  sacrifice  self  for  the  good  of  fellow-men. 

Truly  yours, 
To  Theobauld  Mathew,  D.D.  DAN  EICE. 


ORLEANS,  February  13,  1851. 

Dear  Sir:  Your  munificent  gift  to  the  cause  of  temperance 
in  which  I  am  a  faithful  laborer,  is  gratefully  received.  I  have 
been  already  apprised  of  your  many  charitable  donations  in  this 
part  of  your  great  country  for  which  you  are  already  rewarded, 
for  it  is  the  conscientiousness  of  having  done  a  good  act  that  is 
man's  reward. 

Your  affectionate  friend  in  the  cause  of  temperance, 

THEOBAULD  MATHEW. 

To  Colonel  Dan  Eice. 


EEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    BICE  227 


DAN  RICE  AND  CHARITY. 

EVANSVILLE,  IND.,  May  14,  1853. 
To  THE  MAYOR  OF  LOUISVILLE. 

Dear  Sir:  Being  about  to  pay  you  my  accustomed  spring 
visit,  I  avail  myself  of  the  occasion,  to  return,  through  you,  to  the 
generous  citizens  of  Louisville,  my  sincere  thanks  for  the  kind 
feeling  and  liberal  support  they  have  ever  extended  to  me.  I 
assure  you,  sir,,  that  1  shall  ever  remember  with  the  liveliest 
gratitude  the  encouragement  I  met  with  in  your  city  when  fickle 
fortune  had  frowned  upon  my  efforts  to  buft'et  adversity.  My 
circumstances  at  present  afford  me  the  pleasure  of  making 
some  small  return  for  these  many  favors,  and  to  the  extent  of 
my  humble  means,  I  seize  the  present 'opportunity  of  doing  so. 
I  shall  be  in  Louisville  with  my  Hippodrome  and  Menagerie,  on 
Tuesday  the  31st  and  Wednesday,  June  1st,  and  I  tender  the 
afternoon  performance — the  second  day — the  same  to  be  devoted 
to  any  purpose  you  in  your  wisdom  may  deem  most  laudable.  I 
remain  with  great  respect, 

Your  obedient  servant, 

DAN  EICE. 

MAYOR'S  OFFICE,  LOUISVILLE,  KY.,  May  25,  1853. 
DAN  RICE,  ESQ. 

Dear  Sir:  Your  note  has  just  been  handed  to  me,  and  I  as 
sure  you,  none  of  your  old  friends  could  be  more  rejoiced  at  your 
success  in  life  than  the  citizens  of  our  city,  who  have  had  the 
pleasure  of  witnessing  your  performances,  and  also  your  liber 
ality  on  former  occasions.  From  the  many  acts  of  charity  per 
formed  by  you,  we  would  suppose  success  would  attend  you 
through  life.  I  will,  therefore,  on  the  part  of  the  citizens,  accept 
your  very  liberal  offer,  and  designate  the  "  Orphan's  Asylum  " 
as  the  recipients  of  your  charity. 

Very  respectfully, 

JAS.  S.  SPEED,  Mayor. 

A  WAR  OF  WITS. 

DOESTICKS  VS.  DAN  RICE. 

Two  well-known  public  characters,  both  at  present  sojourning 
in  this  city,  and  both  noted  for  their  ambition  and  faculty  for 
making  the  public  laugh  with,  not  at,  them,  have  lately  taken  it 
into  their  heads  to  pitch  into  each  other,  and  see  if  they  cannot 
make  each  other  cry,  while  the  public  still  laugh.  Mr.  Thomp 
son,  of  the  "  Tribune,"  widely  known  as  Doesticks,  the  author  of 


228  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

many  graphic  and  eccentric  sketches  of  men  and  manners,  not 
liking  the  style,  stuff,  prolixity,  etc.,  of  Dan  Rice,  of  Nixon  & 
Co.'s  Circus,  recently  criticised  that  humorist  and  conversational 
ist  in  a  rather  tart  and  testy  manner;  said  he  was  too  tedious  in 
his  talk;  wrong  in  his  pronounciation,  and  wholly  guiltless  of 
fun  or  other  merit  as  a  clown.  In  return  for  which  public 
notice  bestowed  through  the  columns  of  the  "  Tribune/'  Mr. 
Rice  very  naturally  retorted,  in  his  province  in  the  ring,  and  said 
several  severe  things  of  Mr.  Philander  Doesticks,  which  could 
not  be  very  agreeable  to  him,  unless  he  is  more  eccentric  than 
the  public  have  given  him  credit  for  being.  Both  the  fun- 
makers  are  professional  men,  each  in  his  line.  Both  are  report 
ers,  and  can  give  a  good  or  bad  report  of  any  one,  at  any  time, 
with  the  advantage  of  a  large  circulation.  Thus  it  is  caustic  pen 
against  caustic  tongue.  Each  has  his  partisans,  who,  no  doubt, 
severally  exclaim,  as  they  sum  up  the  respective  hard  hits  ad 
ministered,  "  If  I  were  not  Doesticks,  I  would  be  Dan  Rice!  "  or, 
"  If  I  were  not  Dan  Rice,  I  would  be  Doesticks."  Whether  the 
war  will  continue,  or  when  it  will  end,  none  can  judge,  say  those 
who  have  had  experience  in  the  business  of  bandying  person 
alities,  and  can  calculate  the  amount  of  pleasure  and  profit  in 
such  a  game  of  public  give-and-take.  The  "  Tribune  "  has  a 
large  circulation,  and  Doesticks  drives  a  glittering  pen.  But  on 
the  other  hand,  Nixon's  Circus  is  of  such  unusual  excellence, 
completeness,  and  originality  as  to  fill  Niblo's  Garden  nightly, 
and  Dan  Rice,  with  a  large  audience,  has  been  known  to  wield 
a  tremendous  influence  in  the  South  and  West,  swaying  them 
pretty  much  as  he  pleased.  Dan  is  an  old  war-dog,  though  a 
comparatively  young  man,  and  his  success  in  taming  wild  ani 
mals,  such  as  the  rhinoceros,  elephant,  bear,  camel,  and  mule, 
let  alone  the  horse  and  pony,  argues  eloquently  for  his  persever 
ance,  and,  besides  this,  he  has  owned  and  managed  circuses, 
menageries,  steamboats,  theatres,  and  we  know  not  what  else, 
though  we  can't  say  how  he  will  succeed  with  the  "  Tribune." 

For  our  part  we  are  generally  advocates  of  peace,  but  in  this 
case,  we  don't  care  how  long  the  fight  lasts.  It  is  a  free  fight. 
The  pair  are  well  matched.  And  what  with  the  eccentricities  of 
Dan  and  the  gall  of  Doesticks,  there  is  plenty  of  sport  for  the 
readers  of  the  "  Tribune  "  and  the  patrons  of  Niblo's. 

Is  THERE  A  SPY  AMONG  Us? 

The  New  York  "  Tribune,"  of  Monday,  has  the  following: 
"  A  sharp  lookout  should  be  kept  up  for  the  detection  of  spies. 
A  correspondent  writes  to  inform  us  that  one  Dan  Rice,  the  clown 
of  a  certain  circus,  being  in  New  Orleans  last  winter,  formed  his 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  229 

company  into  a  secession  military  organization  under  the  name 
of  Dan  Rice's  Zouaves,  and  that  he  threatened  all  his  company 
who  declined  to  join  his  crew,  with  summary  discharge. 

u  Lately  coming  northward,  this  same  man  has  tried  to  pass 
himself  off  as  a  Union  man,  and  a  few  days  ago,  actually  had  the 
effrontery  to  deliver  a  war  speech  to  the  volunteers  at  Erie,  Pa. 
It  is  also  said  that  he  has  in  his  train  several  Southern  men  who 
would  make  very  convenient  spies  for  the  Rebels  to  use.  This 
Rice  may,  after  the  manner  of  his  class,  be  skilled  in  riding  many 
horses  about  the  limited  circle  of  his  arena,  but  his  attempt  to 
perform  a  similar  feat  with  two  stools  will  undoubtedly  be  fol 
lowed  by  a  merited  and  unprofitable  fall." 

"  Dan  is  now  in  this  city,  and  rides  but  one  horse  here,  and  this 
is  a  Union  one.  If,  however,  he  picks  up  anything  that  would 
be  consoling  to  Jeff  Davis,  he  should  be  permitted  to  telegraph  it. 
AYc  may  add  in  passing,  that  Daniel  fires  a  good  many  point-blank 
squibs  at  secession  in  his  ring  performances,  and  seems  peculiarly 
sensible  of  the  disastrous  effects  of  secession." — "  The  Daily 
Commercial,"  Cincinnati,  0.,  May  15,  1861. 

DAN  RICE  ON  HORACE  GREELEY. 

CINCINNATI,  May  17,  1861. 
EDITORS  OF  "  COMMERCIAL." 

Gentlemen:  Many  of  my  personal  friends,  you,  sirs,  among  the 
number,  have  expressed  a  wonder  at  the  vehement  remarks  the 
Xew  York  "  Tribune  "  promulgated  in  regard  to  me.  An  absurd 
one  you  quoted  a  day  or  two  since,  and  kindly,  in  your  editorial, 
proved  its  fallacy.  I  respect  a  free  and  honest  press;  appreciate 
their  good  feelings,  and  am  willing  at  all  times  to  be  the  subject 
of  their  criticisms.  I  know  the  potential  nature  of  the  pen,  but 
I  do  object  to  misrepresentation  and  to  have  my  loyalty  ques 
tioned.  The  emetite  emanated  between  myself  and  one  of  the 
"  Tribune  "  employees,  who  aspired  to  be  the  great  humorous 
writer  of  the  age.  My  opinion  was  that  he  would  fail  and  he  has 
done  so.  His  pride  was  hurt,  he  became  jealous  of  me,  and 
vented  his  spleen  in  the  columns  of  the  paper.  This  soreness 
accounts  for  the  milk  in  the  cocoanut.  As  a  loyal,  humor-loving 
man,  I  vindicated  the  honor  of  the  flag.  I  was  born  under  the 
American  banner  and  I  reproved  the  man  who  hissed  at  it.  I  did 
so  publicly  in  the  Academy  of  Music,  Xew  Orleans,  where  I  'was 
performing.  Perhaps  were  Mr.  Horace  Greeley  man  enough  to 
go  there  and  attempt  the  same,  he  would  create  a  greater  excite 
ment  than  I  could.  Petty  malice  I  scorn,  therefore  I  have  a  poor 


230  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

opinion  of  the  "  Tribune's  "  raids  against  me,  and  I  flatter  my 
self  that  I  am  too  well  known  to  be  injured  by  them. 

Truly  yours., 

DAN  EICE. 
— "  Daily  Commercial/'  Cincinnati,  0.,  May  18, 1861. 

DAN  RICE  AND  THE  CRITICS. 

Our  good-natured  friend,  Dan  Bice,  whose  pleasantries  in  the 
circle  have  done  more  to  make  people  laugh  than  all  the  efforts 
of  a  modern  funny  writer  has  ever  achieved,  appears  to  have 
awakened  the  spleen  of  our  amicable  contemporary  of  the 
"  Tribune,"  and  generated  one  or  more  very  ill-natured  com 
ments  in  the  columns  of  the  immaculate  sheet  aforesaid.  Of 
course  the  public,  particularly  in  the  locality  where  the  cynical 
propinquities  of  the  black  man's  organ  are  known,  receive  all 
the  shafts  cum  grano  salts,  and  we  believe  Dan,  who  is  callous  to 
malevolence  and  misrepresentation,  laughs  at  the  attack  and  con 
siders  himself  under  obligation  to  W.  Horace  or  his  subordinates 
for  a  first-rate  notice.  We,  as  journalists,  are  fully  aware  of  the 
responsibilities  that  devolve  upon  the  position,  do  most  em 
phatically  object  to  any  paper  professing  to  be  respectable,  abro 
gating  to  itself  the  right,  by  virtue  of  its  privilege,  to  misrepre 
sent  a  public  man,  no  matter  in  what  relation  he  stands  before 
the  people. 

Personally,  we  care  very  little  for  Mr.  Rice,  but  the  position 
he  has  acquired  in  his  profession  at  once  proves  the  total  absurd 
ity  of  the  "  Tribune's  "  remarks.  A  man  who  can  start  from  this 
city,  alone  and  friendless,  as  this  person  did  some  years  ago,  and 
pass  the  ordeal  of  criticism  before  the  best  judges  of  humor  in 
the  land,  succeed  in  establishing  a  universal  reputation  for  ex 
cellence  from  Maine  to  New  Orleans,  return  to  the  metropolis 
and  proudly  take  possession  of  the  finest  place  of  amusement  our 
great  city  can  boast  of,  must  surely  have  merit  of  no  common 
order. 

Beauty,  fashion,  and  intelligence  patronize  him,  and  the  papers 
speak  well  of  his  ability. 

Still,  the  "  Tribune  "  man  votes  him  a  bore,  and  recommends 
his  speedy  annihilation.  Have  mercy,  most  sanguinary  scribbler, 
for  remember  by  your  own  assertions,  you  should  like  Dan,  for 
has  he  not  taught  his  mules  to  act  genteely  in  good  society?  Do 
consent  to  his  remaining  on  this  mundane  sphere  a  "  few  days 
more,"  and,  perchance,  when  novelties  grow  scarce,  he  may 
achieve  another  triumph  in  rendering  acceptable  some  of  the  assi- 
nine  individuals  who  bray  so  piteously  through  the  columns  of 
the  "  Tribune."—"  Evening  Mirror."  " 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  231 


AS  OTHEES  SAW  HIM. 

AUTO-BIOGRAPHIC  AND  POSTHUMOUS  SKETCHES  OF  THE  LIFE 
OF  THE  SUBJECT  OF  THESE  MEMOIRS  BY  BRILLIANT  AND 
UNBIASED  CRITICS,  WHOSE  RELATIONS  WITH  COL.  RICE 
WERE  PECULIARLY  FAVORABLE  TO  A  DISPASSIONATE  ANAL 
YSIS  OF  THE  MANY  PHASES  OF  THE  CHARACTER  OF  THE 
GREAT  JESTER,  AND  A  GRAPHIC  REVIEW  OF  THE  TREND 
OF  CIRCUMSTANCES  WHICH  MOULDED  HIS  LIFE  MOTIVES 

AND  ROUNDED  OUT  HIS  REMARKABLE  CAREER. 
RICE'S  TACT  AXD  COURAGE. 

A    RARE    TRIBUTE. 

Charles  Stow,  the  well-known  writer  of  the  Barmim  and  Bailey 
Show,  writing  in  a  reminiscent  way  of  Rice's  extraordinary  ca 
reer,  says,  "  although  there  have  been  clowns  who  were  more 
humorous  than  he,  there  have  been  none  who  possessed  a  tithe 
of  his  eloquence,  personal  magnetism,  and  singular  ability  to 
aptly  localize  the  current  events  of  the  day.  I  recall  one  incident 
which  strongly  illustrates  this  faculty: 

"  In  the  spring  of  1868,  during  the  height  of  the  impeachment 
trial  of  President  Johnson,  Rice's  show  opened  for  a  week  in  the 
city  of  Washington.  Of  course,  the  excitement  created  by  the 
trial  militated  against  all  kinds  of  amusement,  and  the  circus 
suffered  proportionately.  The  beggarly  attendance  at  the  open 
ing  afternoon  exhibition  convinced  Rice  that  in  order  to  suc 
cessfully  meet  with  what  he  facetiously  termed  the  competition 
of  that  cross-eyed  clown,  Ben  Butler,  at  the  Capitol,  he  must 
bring  the  impeachment  question  in  some  shape  into  the  ring, 
and  thereby  attract  the  attention  of  the  public. 

"  At  the  evening  exhibition  he  found  his  opportunity.  Among 
the  patrons  of  the  show  was  Senator  Zach  Chandler,  of  Michigan, 
well  known  as  an  active  mover  in  the  impeachment  proceedings. 
Senator  Chandler  occupied  a  place  in  the  cross  section  of  seats, 
which,  in  those  days,  divided  the  menagerie  from  the  circus  ring, 
as  both  were  located  under  the  same  canvas.  While  Rice  was  in 
the  ring  his  attention  was  attracted  by  a  tall  colored  woman 
with  a  colored  bandanna  handkerchief  tied  about  her  head,  who 
was  craning  her  neck  in  an  effort  to  find  a  desirable  seat.  Taking 
a  position  immediately  in  front  of  where  Senator  Chandler  sat, 
Rice,  in  that  stentorian  voice  for  which  he  was  famous,  said  de 
liberately  '  Will  the  Senator  from  Michigan  please  seat  the  col 
ored  sister? ' 


232  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

"  Chandler.,  thus  unexpectedly  addressed,  turned  crimson  with 
embarrassment,  but  after  a  moment's  hesitation,  arose,  went  to 
the  colored  woman,  hat  in  hand,  and  escorted  her  to  the  seat 
which  he  had  occupied.  The  crowd,  which  had  watched  the  little 
by-play  with  puzzled  interest,  suddenly  broke  into  a  perfect 
storm  of  applause,  and  when  it  had  subsided,  Rice,  taking  off  his 
felt  fool's  hat  and  making  a  profound  bow,  exclaimed:  'That's 
right,  I  honor  you,  Zach  Chandler,  for  I  always  like  to  see  a  man 
practice  what  he  preaches.  Three  cheers  for  Zach  Chandler!  ' 
and  they  were  given  with  a  force  that  made  the  centre  pole 
quiver. 

"  After  the  performance,  upon  reaching  his  quarters  at  Wil- 
lard's  Hotel,  Rice  was  confronted  by  Senator  Chandler,  who  in 
dignantly  reproached  him  for  the  unwarrantable  liberty  which 
had  been  taken  with  him.  Rice,  who  was  a  consummate  actor 
in  his  way,  was  apparently  overcome  with  surprise  at  being  re 
proached  by  Chandler,  and  with  an  asumption  of  sincerity  abso 
lutely  convincing,  replied:  ( Is  it  possible  that  you  so  cruelly 
misapprehend  my  motives?  I  was  animated  by  the  purest  feel 
ing  of  personal  regard  and  respect,  and,  sir,  I  wish  here  and  now 
to  assure  you  that  to-night  you  are  envied  by  every  politician 
in  Washington,  and,  that,  sir,  if  you  will  but  follow  my  circus  for 
six  months  I  will  make  you  President  of  the  United  States.'  Of 
course,  before  such  an  explanation,  genial  Zach  Chandler's  wrath 
could  but  melt  away. 

"  Rice  was  essentially  a  brave  man,  and  I  am  sure  that  I  do 
not  exaggerate  when  I  say  that  he  never  knew  the  sensation  of 
fear.  Like  most  absolutely  courageous  men  he  was  kindly  and 
forbearing  under  provocation.  At  the  same  time,  he  was,  in  his 
prime,  the  strongest  man  I  ever  knew,  although  of  medium 
stature,  probably  not  weighing  more  than  one  hundred  and 
seventy  pounds,  and  possessed  of  extraordinary  agility. 

"  In  those  days  difficulties  between  a  certain  element  of  the 
public  and  circus  people  were  more  frequent  than  now,  and  Rice, 
through  no  desire  or  fault  of  his  own,  gained  the  reputation  of 
being  an  invincible  fighter.  This  bred  in  the  hearts  of  bullies 
everywhere  a  desire  to  gain  prominence  by  whipping  the  great 
clown. 

"  Rice  always  tried  to  avoid  these  difficulties,  but  after  patience 
and  forbearance  had  failed,  as  they  usually  did,  he  would  turn 
to  and  in  short  order  blight  the  hopes  of  these  aspirants  for 
fistic  honors.  He  never  was  whipped  by  any  man,  frequently 
vanquishing  several  opponents  at  a  time,  and  came  out  of  all  these 
rough  contests  without  serious  injury.  Possibly  his  fearlessness 
was  in  part  due  to  the  fact  of  his  being  a  genuine  fatalist,  as  he 
frequently  remarked  that  the  bullet  was  not  moulded  which 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  233 

would  strike  him,  and  his  bearing  at  the  pistol's  mouth  proved 
that  he  believed  what  he  said. 

"  Rice  pursued  his  nomadic  way  down  the  Father  of  Waters 
with  varying  fortunes  and  experiences  not  always  safe  or  pleasant, 
until  he  reached  Shreveport,  La.,  on  the  Red  River.  This  place 
had  been  one  of  the  hotbeds  of  secession,  and  was,  at  the  time,  the 
rendezvous  of  as  murderous  a  gang  of  ruffians  as  ever  terrorized 
a  community.  Rice  had  been  warned  that,  on  account  of  the  pre 
judicial  reports  that  I  have  mentioned,  it  would  be  exceedingly 
dangerous  for  him  to  attempt  to  exhibit  in  the  town,  and  his 
friends  urged  him  not  to  do  so,  but  to  this  advice  he  turned  a 
deaf  ear,  simply  replying,  '  Tell  the  people  of  Shreveport  that  I 
will  exhibit  there  as  announced.'  News  of  this  determination 
preceded  him,  creating  a  furore  of  excitement  and  apprehension, 
and  when  his  boat  reached  the  town,  a  dense  crowd  was  at  the 
wharf  to  receive  him.  When  the  gangplank  was  run  ashore  he 
was  the  first  to  land,  and  so  great  was  the  respect  provoked  by 
his  courageous  bearing,  that,  while  verbal  insults  were  heaped 
upon  him,  he  was  allowed  to  unload  his  show  and  erect  his  tent 
without  molestation.  But  the  feeling  against  him  was  so  bitter 
that  his  entire  company  refused  to  appear,  the  band  stampeded, 
and  even  his  veteran  canvasmen  could  not  be  induced  to  work." 

THE    GREAT   CONVERTED. 

DAN  RICE  AS  SKETCHED  BY  ONE  WHO  KNEW  HIM — HIS  EARLY 
LIFE,  VARIED  FORTUNES  AND  ROMANTIC  CAREER — PER- 
SON"AL  COMBATS  AND  THRILLING  INCIDENTS. 

CHAS.  STOW  IN  THE  "  BUFFALO  DAILY  COURIER." 

The  recent  conversion  of  Dan  Rice,  the  world-wide  famous 
circus  manager  and  clown,  has  attracted  so  much  attention,  and 
suggested  so  many  erroneous  attempts  at  biography,  that  he 
might  have  well  exclaimed  with  the  jealous  Moor,  "  Speak  of  me 
as  I  am! "  The  awakened  interest  manifested  in  the  Man  of 
Motley  may  render  some  personal  jottings,  by  one  who  knew  him 
intimately,  acceptable  to  your  readers. 

The  arenic  brand  just  snatched  from  the  burning  by  the  hand 
of  the  evangelist  at  St.  Louis,  was  born  in  the  city  of  New  York, 
about  the  year  1820. 

While  yet  a  mere  boy,  Dan  wandered  as  far  west  as  Marietta, 
0.,  and  became  famous  the  entire  length  of  the  Ohio  River  as  a 
daring  jockey  and  remarkably  successful  quarter-horse  rider.  He 
subsequently  resided  at  Pittsburg,  and  there  became  identified 


234:  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

with  the  first  negro  minstrel  troupe  ever  organized.  The  ex 
hibition  of  a  learned  pig  was  his  first  venture  in  the  show  business 
on  his  own  account.  Next  he  successfully  appeared  in  the  more 
pretentious  role  of 

"  THE   MODERN   SAMSON," 

giving  extraordinary  illustrations  of  strength.  This  served  as 
his  introduction  into  the  ring  in  his  original  and  unrivalled  role 
of  clown,  or  "  Shakespearean  Jester/'  as  he  was  loudly  lined  on 
the  bills.  He  speedily  eclipsed  all  rivalry  and  achieved  unparal 
leled  popularity  and  success,  and  for  years  his  name  alone  was  a 
terror  to  opposition,  and  sufficed  to  draw  crowded  houses. 
Strange  as  it  may  at  first  appear,  to  this  latter  fact  his  subsequent 
misfortunes  are  partly  attributable.  For  five  or  six  years,  pre 
ceding  1869,  he  was  regularly  engaged  by  other  circus  managers 
who  paid  him 

A  THOUSAND  DOLLARS  A  WEEK 

for  his  services  and  the  use  of  his  name,  and  bankrupted  his 
popularit}''  and  brilliant  professional  reputation  by  associating 
him  with  inferior  exhibitions,  for  the  shortcomings  of  which  the 
public  held  him  responsible.  Previous  to  this  he  owned  and 
managed  different  circuses,  and  the  fact  that  he  remained  for  an 
entire  season  in  the  State  of  New  York,  drove  every  other  tent- 
show  out  of  that  territory,  and  cleared  nearly  a  hundred  thou 
sand  dollars,  is  sufficient  evidence  of  his  extraordinary  hold  upon 
popular  favor. 

In  1869,  Dan  resumed  the  reins  of  management  on  his  own 
account,  but,  like  Cassio,  he  had  "  lost  his  reputation/'  and,  still 
more  unfortunately  for  himself,  had  got  above  his  business.  In 
stead  of  attempting  to  reestablish  himself  as  a  clown,  he  foolishly 
undertook  to  play  the  gentleman  in  the  ring,  and  substituting 
semi-political  exhortations  and  pointless  lectures  for  song,  jibe, 
jest,  and  pantomime,  prosed  and  prosed  until  even  his  most 
faithful  admirers  fell  away.  With  almost  heroic  obstinacy,  he 
kept  on,  as  he  himself  best  expressed  it,  "  fighting  fate  "  until 
1872,  when  the  weight  of  accumulated  debts  crushed  him.  His 
beautiful  home  and  valuable  property,  at  Girard,  Pa.,  his  flour 
ishing  newspaper,  his  fine  stock,  his  show — everything  was  swept 
away,  and  yet  an  enormous  deficit  left,  from  which  he  took  refuge 
in  bankruptcy,  estimating  his  debts  at  something  like  $200,000, 
and  stating  his  assets  as  "  one  suit  of  clothes,  $35."  Since  .then 
he  has  made  repeated  starts  and  failures,  and  even  prolonged 
dissipation,  enough  to  have  killed  a  dozen  ordinary  men,  did  not 
seem  to  sap  his  indomitable  energy  and  iron  will.  Until  long- 


BEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE  23o 

continued  misfortune  drove  him  to  the  intoxicating  cup  for 
solace  and  oblivion,  Dan  was  comparatively  a  temperate  man. 
Let  this  be  remembered  in  his  favor. 

It  would  literally  require  volumes  to  contain  the  romantic  and 
thrilling  incidents  in  the  public  career  of  one  of  the  most  ex 
traordinary  of  men,  for  such  was  Dan  Kice,  possessed,  moreover, 
of  many  of  the  attributes  of  positive  genius.  It  is  certainly  con 
clusive  evidence  of  greatness  to  be  greatest  in  anything,  no  mat 
ter  what  the  calling  may  happen  to  be,  and  that  Dan  Eice  was  the 
greatest  clown  that  ever  lived  admits  of  no  argument,  if  success 
and  public  opinion  be  accepted  as  the  standard  by  which  to  judge. 
He  has  set  the  motley  pattern  for  his  age,  and  had  scores  of 
imitators,  but  not  an  equal.  His  history  is  part  of  the  traditional 
romance  of  the  arena,  and  thousands  of  gray  beards  yet  survive 
to  chuckle  over  his  earlier  escapades,  and  tell  how  they  have  often 
seen  the  performances  interrupted  with  shouts  of  "  Go  on,  Dan! 
we  don't  want  to  see  any  circus;  we  eame  to  hear  you!  "  With 
the  masses  he  was  the  demi-god  of  the  sawdust;  throughout  the 
length  and  breadth  of  the  land  they  flocked  in  eager  crowds  to 
greet  him;  sang  his  songs,  repeated  his  jokes,  and  prolonged  his 
praises.  Personally,  he  was  probably  the  best  known  man  in  the 
world,  and  there  was  scarcely  a  hamlet  on  the  continent  in  which 
he  could  not  find  an  acquaintance,  and  recognize  him  when 
found,  for  his  memory  of  names  and  faces  was  phenomenal,  and 
after  a  lapse  of  several  years  could  call  by  name  persons  whom 
he  had  met  but  once  before. 

Dan,  as  a  pantomimist,  was  simply  inimitable.  He  recog 
nized  the  fact  that  gesture,  expression,  and  attitude  were  fun 
nier  than  words,  and  employed  them  with  such  consummate 
art  that  his  mere  entrance  into  the  ring  was  greeted  with 
roars  of  laughter.  Add  to  this  a  splendid  physique;  the  most 
sonorous  and  far-reaching  voice  ever  heard  under  canvas,  fair 
vocal  powers,  a  happy  talent  for  localizing,  keen,  quick,  and 
infallible  perception,  perfect  confidence  and  self-possession, 
great  natural  gifts  of  oratory,  personal  magnetism  sufficient 
to  impress  the  large  audience,  unchallenged  and  graceful 
mastery  over  the  horse,  and  a  deserved  reputation  for  courage, 
physical  powers,  and  reckless  liberality,  and  you  have  the 
secret  of  success,  as  well  as  the  imperfect  portraiture  of  a  man 
more  truly  sui  generis  than  any  of  his  profession,  if  not  of 
his  time.  Out  of  such  a  wealth  of  material,  proper  education 
and  training  might  readily  have  moulded  a  great  man  in  any  of 
the  higher  walks  of  life,  and  it  is  well  within  the  range  of  possi 
bility  that  with  grace  to  continue  steadfast  in  the  faith,  he 
might  have  become  a  mighty  propagator  of  the  Gospel.  As  a 
member  of  the  church  militant  he  would  have  also  been  most 


REMINISCENCES    OE    DAN    RICE 

redoubtable,  for  not  only  was  lie  worthy  to  be  ranked  with  Xey 
as  "  bravest  of  the  brave/'  but  as  a  physical  and  fighting  wonder 
he  outranked  such  celebrities  as  Bill  Poole  or  Yankee  Sullivan, 
though  without  the  offensive  pugnacity  of  either.  He  was  about 
five  feet  nine  inches  in  height,  and  weighed  about  one  hundred 
and  seventy-five  pounds,  being  far  from  the  "  giant  form/'  and 
yet  a  condensed  Hercules  in  strength,  and  lithe  as  a  leopard. 
He  has  doubtless  had  more  personal  encounters  than  any  other 
man  of  his  time,  and  came  off  victorious  from  every  one.  In  few, 
if  any,  cases,  was  he  the  aggressor.  Local  bullies,  or  rural 
knight-errants  of  the  fists,  hearing  of  his  prowess,  came  long 
distances  expressly  to  whip  him,  and  used  few  courtly  terms  to 
make  their  mission  known.  Dan  invariably  sought  to  avoid  bat 
tle  by  enlarging  on  the  beauties  of  peace  and  the  folly  of  fight 
ing  for  fame  alone;  but  when  it  was  evident  kind  words  availed 
not,  he  summarily  thrashed  the  aspirant  for  his  undesired  and 
inconvenient  laurels  within  an  inch  of  his  life.  He  thus  polished 
a  number  of  quarrelsome  ruffians  into  quite  respectable  citizens, 
and  was  much  esteemed  as  a  public  benefactor  therefor. 

It  may  be  reasonably  doubted  whether  Dan  Rice  ever  experi 
enced  the  sensation  of  fear,  and  that  his  courage  was  absolutely 
bullet-proof  admits  of  no  question,  upon  the  thrilling  evidence 
furnished  by  his  first  trip  to  the  South  just  after  the  war.  Dan 
had  been  a  great  favorite  in  that  section  and  the  people  were  pro 
portionately  incensed  against  him  by  the  malicious  circulation  of 
a  false  report  to  the  effect  that  he  commanded  a  negro  regiment 
during  the  rebellion.  Threats  to  shoot  him  on  sight  were  fre 
quently  indulged  in,  and  word  wras  repeatedly  sent  him,  earnestly 
advising  him,  as  he  valued  his  life,  to  stay  away.  His  stern  and 
only  reply  was,  "  I  am  coming,"  and  he  went.  The  danger  had 
not  been  exaggerated;  it  was  simply  appalling,  and  sometimes 
caused  his  bravest  men  to  fly  and  leave  him  entirely  alone  to  face 
it.  His  magnificent  courage  rose  equal  to  every  occasion,  and 
triumphed  in  every  emergency.  In  one  instance  he  exposed  his 
breast  to  a  howling  mob  and  dared  them  to  shoot,  and  in  another, 
learning  that  at  a  certain  rendezvous  a  crowd  was  assembled, 
thirsting  for  blood,  he  went  there,  revealed  himself,  made  an 
explanatory  speech  in  the  face  of  a  dozen  cocked  revolvers,  con 
vinced  his  mercurial  hearers  that  he  had  been  grossly  slandered, 
and  was  finally  carried  in  triumph  on  the  shoulders  of  those  who 
had  sworn  to  kill  him. 

At  a  small  town  in  Mississippi,  while  he  was  taking  tickets  at 
the  door  of  his  tent,  a  drunken  bushwhacker  came  up  and  fired 
point  blank  at  him,  the  bullet  passing  through  his  coat.  With 
out  changing  a  muscle,  he  looked  his  assailant  straight  in  the  eye 
and  calmly  said:  "  Oh,  put  that  up;  we  are  used  to  that  sort  of 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  237 

thing  here.  Tickets!  Tickets!"  "By  G— d,"  exclaimed  the 
assassin,  "  you  are  too  brave  a  man  to  shoot!  "  and  he  thrust  his 
pistol  in  his  belt  and  staggered  off.  It  did  seem  as  though  Dan's 
life  was  miraculously,  and  in  the  light  of  recent  events,  it  may 
be  thought  providentially,  preserved. 


^  EOMAXCE  IN  EEAL  LIFE. 

BY   W.    C.    CHUM. 

Editor  Florida  State  Republican. 

It  was  past  the  midnight  hour  on  a  beautiful  July  night  in 
1848,  when  loud  raps  were  heard  at  the  hall  door  of  a  Methodist 
preacher's  house.  That  house  was  conspicuously  located  on  the 
main  thoroughfare  of  a  delightful  country  village  situated  in  a 
picturesque  valley  in  the  interior  of  the  great  State  of  New  York. 
For  a  clergyman's  family  of  staid  and  regular  habits  to  be  dis 
turbed  at  such  an  unusual  hour  in  the  thoughts  from  the  visions 
of  the  night,  when  deep  sleep  falleth  on  men,  was  among  the 
rare  things  to  happen,  especially  among  a  people  who  had  prac 
tised  the  maxim  of  "  Early  to  bed  and  early  to  rise  makes  men 
healthy,  wealthy,  and  wise."  It  was  several  moments,  therefore, 
before  the  follower  of  John  Wesley  became  sufficiently  aroused  to 
the  fact  that  a  stranger  was  knocking  at  the  door.  The  good 
man  hastily  dressed  himself  and,  with  light  in  hand,  proceeded  to 
the  door,  and  on  further  inquiry,  opened  it,  when  the  well- 
dressed  form  of  a  handsome  young  man  of  less  than  five  and 

twenty  summers  appeared,  who  asked  if  Gardner lived 

there.  On  being  told  that  he  did,  the  anxious  and  blushing 
young  man  was  surprised  to  discover  that  the  benignant  dominie 
did  not  recognize  him. 

"  You  are  my  uncle,"  says  he,  quickly.  "  Don't  you  remember 
the  boy  you  used  to  call  Dandy  ?  " 

"  Dandy,  Dandy,"  says  the  preacher,  rapidly  revolving  in  his 
mind.  "  why,  yes;  my  sister  Elizabeth  had  a  son  whom  we  used 
to  call  '  Dandy '  when  he  was  a  little  fellow.  Do  you  tell  me 
you  are  my  sister's  son?  " 

"  Yes,  uncle,  I  am  the  same  fellow,  only  they  don't  call  me 
'  Dandy '  now." 

This  last  expression,  uttered  with  an  air  of  mental  reserve, 
created  just  a  little  feeling  of  doubt  in  the  mind  of  the  sus 
picions  uncle,  who  took  a  rapid  review  of  the  dashing  young 
stranger,  whose  entire  appearance  indicated  a  great  transition 
from  the  plain  and  unpretentious  surroundings  of  his  amiable 


238  KEMIN1SCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

sister's  Methodist  home,  as  he  last  knew  it,  while  visiting  her 
years  before  in  a  suburban  town,  where  is  situated  now  one  of  the 
most  fashionable  watering  places  on  the  Atlantic  seashore.  How 
can  it  be  possible,  thought  he,  that  my  sister's  son  could  have 
suddenly  met  with  a  fortune  that  would  justify  such  wealth  of 
dress,  display  of  jewels,  and  flash  of  diamonds?  This  is  hardly 
compatible  with  the  unostentatious  habits  of  early  Methodist 
life.  But  the  instinct  of  consanguinity  soon  bubbles  over  where 
evidences  of  blood  kin  relationship  stands  out  so  conspicuously 
as  it  did  on  the  classic  features  of  the  honest  young  man  who 
stood  in  full  outline  before  his  uncle.  He  could  not  but  recognize 
in  his  face  the  lineaments  of  both  his  father  and  mother,  who 
was  considered  the  belle  of  the  place  in  her  girlhood  days,  while 
his  father  possessed  the  physique  of  a  peer  of  Scotland.  It  re 
quired  but  a  moment  longer  to  unravel  the  secret  of  this  brief 
introduction;  so,  without  waiting  for  any  further  ceremony,  the 
young  man  sprang  into  his  long-looked-for  uncle's  arms,  and  it 
may  well  be  imagined  how  earnest  and  affectionate  was  their 
mutual  embrace.  Had  the  young  man  dropped  down  out  of  the 
heavens,  it  could  not  have  been  a  greater  surprise  to  his  uncle, 
who  rubbed  his  hands  and  shrugged  his  shoulders,  and  gave 
many  other  manifestations  of  the  great  joy  he  experienced  on 
beholding,  after  the  lapse  of  so  many  years,  the  veritable 
"  Dandy "  of  his  ideal  and  idolized  sister's  heart.  Years  had 
passed  since  he  had  heard  anything  definite,  and  these  only 
rumors,  in  regard  to  "  Dandy's  "  youthful  career.  He  knew  that 
he  had  somehow  cut  his  cable,  launched  forth  into  the  world,  and 
fondly  deemed  earth,  wind,  and  star  his  friends,  to  become  the 
architect  of  his  own  fortune.  But  as  to  the  vicissitudes  which 
had  transpired  in  his  career,  and  the  multifarious  freaks  of  for 
tune  which  interposed  from  the  visions  of  childhood  to  the  more 
mature  thoughts  of  adolescence,  it  was  plain  to  the  uncle's  mind 
that  the  dashing  young  nephew  had  developed  to  the  full  stature 
of  a  magnificent  specimen  of  the  genus  homo,  dressed  in  fault 
less  style,  possessing  a  physique  that  would  rival  an  Apollo- 
Belvidere. 

"  Where  did  you  come  from,  and  by  what  conveyance  ?  "  said 
his  uncle  in  expressions  of  surprise. 

"  I  came  from  Jefferson,"  said  he,  "  and  hi  my  own  coach, 
which  is  at  the  door.  I  cannot  stay  but  a  few  hours,  as  I  am  to 
appear  at  Mechlingburg  to-morrow,  which  is  twenty  miles  from 
here,  and  I  ought  to  be  there  by  twelve  o'clock  noon." 

By  this  time  all  the  members  of  the  family  were  fully  awak 
ened,  and  joined  heartily  in  the  family  greeting.  When  the 
street  in  front  of  the  house  was  reached  by  the  inmates  of  the 
parsonage,  a  sight  met  their  gaze  hardly  paralleled  in  the  scenes 


REMINISCENCES    OF    PAN    RICE  239 

of  the  Arabian  Xights'  Entertainment.  There,  before  a  royal 
brougham  ( ?)  bedizzened  with  an  oriflame  of  tints  as  gorgeous  as 
Guido's  aurora,  or  Elijah's  chariot  of  fire,  stood  four  of  as  beauti 
ful  milk-white  Arabian  thoroughbreds,  richly  caparisoned  with 
an  ornate  and  elaborate  solid  gold  mounted  harness  as  ever 
graced  the  royal  equerry  of  King  Solomon's  court.  On  the 
front  sat  a  proudly-dressed  colored  Jehu  holding  the  ribbons, 
four  in  hand;  on  the  rear  sat  a  liveried  footman,  draped  after  the 
custom  of  his  order,  lending  to  the  tout  ensemble  a  strikingly 
picturesque  air.  Expressions  of  admiration  and  surprise  from 
all  the  members  of  the  household  followed  in  rapid  succession, 
while  directions  wrere  given  to  the  grooms  to  carefully  house  the 
unique  equipage.  Suitable  lodgings  were  also  provided  for  the 
various  attaches.  It  was  well  into  the  w^ee  small  hours  before  the 
studious  disciple  of  the  "  Fellow  of  Lincoln  College  "  exhausted 
himself  of  questions  necessary  to  solve  the  meaning  of  such  an 
elaborate  turnout.  Briefly  running  over  a  few  years  of  his  later 
life,  "  Dandy  "  entertained  the  family  with  hints  only  of  his 
chequered  but  romantic  career,  which,  in  effect,  possessed  all  the 
charms  of  a  fairy  tale.  The  particulars,  however,  of  this  portion 
of  our  story  must  be  reserved  for  the  future. 


JOHN  B.  DORIS'  REMINISCENCES  OF  DAN  RICE. 

"  I  can  see  back  thirty-six  years  as  though  it  were  but  yester 
day,"  said  Mr.  Doris.  "  My  first  visit  to  Washington  was  in 
1863,  as  an  agent  for  the  old  Dan  Rice  show.  He  played  that 
season  down  on  Four-and-a-half  Street,  near  the  Avenue.  Within 
a  stone's  throw  was  the  government  reservation,  afterward  trans 
formed  by  the  landscape  artist  into  one  of  the  most  picturesque 
parks  in  the  world.  Four-and-a-half  Street  wasn't  a  very  swell 
neighborhood  at  that  time.  It  was  low,  damp,  malaria-breeding, 
and  from  the  door  of  our  tent  I  could  see  for  blocks  over  a  vast 
expanse  of  mud  and  lowland.  But  Colonel  Shepherd,  the  Michael 
Angelo  of  Washington,  came  later  on  and  gave  the  nation  a  city 
fit  for  location  in  the  corner  of  a  star.  Dan  Rice  was,  of  course, 
the  reigning  attraction  in  those  days. 

"  We  played  here  a  week  in  1863,  and  President  Lincoln  and 
his  wife  were  among  our  distinguished  callers.  The  President 
was  a  personal  friend  of  Rice,  and  came  around  to  Dan's  dressing- 
room  after  the  performance  and  recalled  Dan's  barnstorming 
tours  through  Illinois  in  the  fifties. 

"  Mr.  Rice  never  tired  of  recalling  that  visit  of  the  martyred 
President;  of  how  the  great  man  tossed  aside  all  austerities  and 
decorum  and  sat  on  the  edge  of  a  huge  trunk,  his  long  legs 


240  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

entwined,  his  knees  in  his  hands,  and  his  high,  flat-rimmed  tile 
on  an  angle,  as  he  chatted,  laughed,  and  cracked  a  batch  of  favor 
ite  gags.  We  played  Washington  every  season  from  1863  to  the 
early  seventies.  In  1867,  we  rented  a  lot  near  the  Baltimore 
and  Potomac  Station,  on  Sixth  Street.  That  was  my  first  year 
with  the  Forepaugh  show.  In  the  early  sixties  Eice  was  under 
the  management  of  Spaulding  &  Rogers,  who  made  a  fortune 
in  the  fifties  on  the  Mississippi  River  with  their  boat  shows.  They 
had  a  floating  circus,  and  played  the  town  along  the  levees.  The 
ring  was  pitched  in  the  middle  of  the  boat,  and  the  performance 
consisted  of  trained  dogs  and  horses  and  the  old  clown  specialties. 
Spaulding  left  an  enormous  fortune,  and  his  son,  Col.  Charles 
Spaulding,  the  owner  of  the  Olympic  Theatre,  and  a  million 
dollars'  worth  of  property  in  St.  Louis,  is  the  wealthiest  theatre 
proprietor  in  America,  though  few,  even  among  theatrical  people, 
are  aware  of  that  fact. 

"  Dan  Rice  signed  a  contract  for  a  long  term  of  years  with  the 
Forepaugh  show  at  a  salary  of  $25,000  per  year.  The  younger 
generation  of  theatre-goers  who  hear  their  daddies  and  mommers 
rave  over  Dan  Rice  have  but  a  hazy  idea  of  the  talents  of  this 
great  genius  of  the  sawdust  ring. 

"  Rice  was  a  man  of  versatile  talents  and  a  fine  mind,  deeply 
read  in  everything,  from  the  classics  to  the  latest  political  and 
sporting  events.  To  be  sure,  he  depended  first  of  all  on  his  suc 
cess  as  a  clown,  but  he  wasn't  the  sort  of  conventional  clown  we 
see  in  the  circus  to-day.  Rice  was  a  talking  clown  or  jester,  a 
sort  of  Touchstone  with  eloquence,  wit,  poesy,  and  mirth,  the 
originator  of  all  his  quips  and  sayings. 

"  It  required  an  actor  of  no  mean  ability  to  produce  the  enter 
tainment  provided  by  Rice.  His  artistic  Touchstone  style  of  the 
clown  was  never  equalled  before  or  since.  The  Rice  clown  died 
with  his  retirement  and  gave  way  to  the  hybrid  species  of  the 
buffoon.  This  buffoonery  replaced  the  legitimate  jester  of  the 
Rice  type  and  the  clown  of  to-day  is  merely  an  incident  of  a 
circus,  a  filler-in  on  the  programme,  a  fickle  shadow  of  the  bril 
liant  substance  of  the  Rice  days.  But  Rice's  talents  were  not 
confined  to  the  clown  specialty.  He  was  a  trainer  of  animals, 
horses  being  his  specialty.  His  trained  horse,  Excelsior,  was 
one  of  the  most  intelligent  animals  that  ever  bowed  to  the  beck 
of  its  master.  Excelsior  was  as  blind  as  a  bat.  Certain  words 
from  his  master  meant  certain  -tricks.  The  feat  of  training  a 
blind  horse  was  regarded  as  a  sensation  in  those  days  and  would, 
be  just  as  much  of  a  sensation  to-day,  for  that  matter.  Rice's 
trick  stallion,  Stephen  A.  Douglas,  a  graceful  Arabian  steed,  was 
another  of  Rice's  pet  trick  animals,  and  he  was  almost  as  big  a 
favorite  with  the  public  as  old  Excelsior." 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 


DAN  RICE  TO  THE  FORE. 
CHECKERED  CAREER  OF  THE  MAN. 

BY   JOHN   A.    COCKERILL,. 

Eighty  years  have  sped  along  since  he  first  saw  the  light  of 
day.  In  the  earlier  years  of  his  career  Dan  Rice  was  one  of  the 
best-known  characters  in  America,  and  he  was  a  sort  of  model 
for  the  boys  and  girls  who  flocked  to  see  his  show.- 

Wealth  rolled  in  his  coffers  and  the  great  showman-clown  was 
believed  to  be  a  millionaire.  He  was  extravagant  in  his  habits, 
and,  like  many  men  who  possessed  a  much  greater  share  of  edu 
cational  and  refining  influences,  he  could  not  stand  prosperity 
and  gradually  he  ran  down  the  grade  and  was  lost  to  public  view, 
bearing  the  fatal  stamp  that  to  him  his  life  was  a  failure.  About 
a  year  ago  many  friends  who  had  a  pleasant  recollection  of  his 
former  years  of  prosperity,  and  sympathizing  with  the  veteran 
clown  in  his  declining  years  of  adversity,  inaugurated  a  testi 
monial  benefit  at  the  Union  Square  Theatre,  and  thus  raised  a 
substantial  sum  of  money,  which  placed  the  old  man  above  imme 
diate  want. 

Formerly  Uncle  Dan  made  his  headquarters  in  New  York, 
and  with  his  faithful  wife  found  a  home  in  the  Everett  House, 
where  Daniel  Webster,  Henry  Clay,  and  other  noted  men  fre 
quently  have  enjoyed  all  the  comforts  of  home.  The  old  clown 
felt  an  irrepressible  desire  for  a  long  time  to  return  to  the  scenes 
of  his  first  love  and  earlier  triumphs,  and  expressed  a  hope  that 
he  might,  like  Richards,  at  least  die  with  harness  upon  his  back. 
Some  of  his  ancient  friends  and  zealous  admirers  extended  en 
couragement  to  him  by  drawing  painful  pictures  of  the  strong 
contrast  between  the  clowns  of  to-day  with  the  unique  and  origi 
nal  character  he  portrayed. 

SKETCH   OF  THE   OLD   SHOWMAN". 

Dan  Rice's  real  name  was  Daniel  McLaren.  When  a  lad  he 
was  a  stable-boy  on  various  race-tracks  and  was  known  as  "  Dusty 
Dan."  He  was  agile  and  acrobatic  and  became  an  acrobat,  with 
wonderful  energy  and  amazing  physical  strength.  It  was  not 
remarkable,  with  such  training  and  early  surroundings,  that  his 
physical  prowess  should  lead  him  into  the  roped  arena,  and  in 
1828  it  is  recorded  that  the  Pennsylvania  Legislature  adjourned 
to  witness  a  sparring  exhibition  between  Kensett,  the  John  L. 
Sullivan  of  the  day,  and  young  Dan  Rice,  as  he  was  known  then. 
16 


212  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

He  was  a  strapping  fellow  of  twenty,  and  by  this  event  Uncle 
Dan's  age  at  present  is  fixed  among  the  eighties. 

Shortly  after  this  fistie  encounter,  Dan,  who  was  possessed 
largely  with  the  gift  of  gab,  began  his  career  as  a  clown.  He 
modelled  his  work  after  Wallett,  a  famous  English  jester,  and 
speedily  took  front  rank  as  a  wit  in  the  West  and  Southwest,  his 
earliest  fields  of  conquest.  His  popularity  became  so  great  that 
he  started  a  show  of  his  own  with  a  wonderfully  trained  pure 
white  stallion  christened  Excelsior,  and  rival  managers  used  this 
feature  to  refer  to  him  as  running  "  a  one-horse  show."  The 
horse  was  a  winner,  however,  and  proved  to  be  such  a  success  that 
when  Excelsior  died  another  horse  much  like  him  and  bearing 
the  same  name  soon  supplied  his  place.  Rice  in  those  days  was 
an  eloquent  stump  orator,  and  when  his  show  reached  a  small 
town  he  would  harangue  the  populace  from  the  balcony  of  a  small 
tavern  while  the  circus  was  being  filled  up,  and  at  its  conclusion 
he  would  extend  a  cordial  invitation  to  his  hearers  to  visit  "  Dan 
Rice's  Great  and  Only  Show." 


A  PUBLIC  BENEFACTOR,  TOO. 

Not  only  as  a  clown,  but  as  a  benefactor,  was  Dan  Rice  known 
in  his  early  days.  He  built  an  iron  fence  around  one  of  the 
parks  in  New  Orleans,  made  generous  donations  to  building 
schoolhouses,  churches,  orphan  asylums,  and  market-houses,  and 
often  made  the  small  boys  happy  by  scattering  a  handful  of  shin 
ing  coins  among  them  while  his  procession  was  moving  along  the 
streets. 

Once  he  landed  in  jail  in  Albany.  The  "  Whip,"  a  virulent 
paper  published  at  the  capital  by  George  Jones,  late  of  the  New 
York  "  Times,"  and  edited  by  the  late  Hugh  Hastings,  attacked 
Dan,  and  he  employed  its  author,  Chester  Clarence  Moore,  the 
author  of  "  The  Night  Before  Christmas,"  to  respond  in  an  at 
tack  upon  the  late  Dr.  Spaulding.  Dan  was  arrested  for  libel 
and  was  thrown  into  the  "  Blue  Eagle  Jail."  Spaul ding's  son 
Charles,  of  St.  Louis,  and  Rice  joined  fortunes  years  afterwards 
and  the  show  was  taken  to  Paris,  but  the  law  was  evoked  for 
bidding  the  erection  of  frame  buildings  and  the  venture  was  a 
failure.  In  this  city,  during  the  year  of  the  International  Fair, 
he  became  involved  pecuniarily  and  unable  to  keep  engagements 
elsewhere;  he  hit  upon  a  happy  expedient  by  placarding  the 
fences  of  Philadelphia  with  big  posters,  reading,  "  Dan  Rice 
Can't  Get  Away."  The  late  Avery  Smith  was  pleased  with  the 
wit  of  the  clown  and  loaned  to  him  sufficient  money  to  take  him 
to  the  Quaker  City. 


CES    OF    DAN     RICE 
DILEMMA  DURING  THE  WAR. 

When  the  Civil  War  broke  out  Dan  was  on  a  steamboat  bound 
for  Mobile,  but  he  presented  his  show  under  the  Stars  and  Bars, 
and  on  his  return  North  made  amends  for  this  indiscretion  by 
sending  the  Stars  and  Stripes  to  the  breeze  and  subsequently 
erecting  a  handsome  monument  in  Erie,  Pa.,  dedicated  "  To  the 
memory  of  the  soldiers  of  Erie  County  who  fell  in  the  defence  of 
their  country — erected  by  Col.  Dan  Rice.7'  During  one  of  the 
Presidential  campaigns  in  this  city  Dan  had  banners  flung  across 
Broadway  reading: 


FOR  PRESIDENT, 
COL.   DAN  RICE, 

OP 

PENNSYLVANIA. 


His  agents  laughed  at  it  and  made  an  advertising  scheme  of 
it,  but  the  ageing  showman  entertained  the  matter  seriously,  and 
politics  turned  his  head.  His  show  wras  a  failure,  and  Dan  tried 
hard  to  be  sent  to  Congress  from  one  of  the  Pennsylvania  dis 
tricts,  but  failed.  In  1865  Forepaugh  paid  him  $25,000  a  year 
to  join  his  show,  and  during  the  seasons  of  1866  and  1867  he  re 
ceived  $27,500  a  year,  the  largest  salary  ever  paid  to  a  circus 
clown. 

KNEW  DAN  RICE. 

MRS.  HEMMINGS7  TALK  OF  THE  OLD  CLOWN  WHO  HAS  JUST 
DIED — WAS  POPULAR  AMONG  CIRCUS  PROFESSION  AS 
WELL  AS  THE  PUBLIC. 

The  death  of  Dan  Rice,  clown,  circus  owner,  the  forerunner  of 
P.  T.  Barnum,  recalls  to  one  Philadelphia  family  in  particular 
the  career  of  one  of  the  most  remarkable  men  in  his  line  that 
ever  catered  to  the  amusements  of  the  public.  Richard  Hem- 
mings,  of  656  North  Tenth  Street,  who,  in  the  sixties,  was  the 
part  owner  of  the  Hemmings  &  Cooper  Circus,  paid  Dan  Rice  in 
the  season  of  1867,  $21,500,  which  was  a  salary  of  $1,000  a  week. 
According  to  the  recollections  also  of  the  "earlier  inhabitants" 
of  this  city,  Dan  Rice  gave  full  equivalent  to  the  public  in  so  far 
that  he  furnished  fun  by  the  wholesale. 


244  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

Mr.  Hemmings  is  in  Baltimore  at  present  attending  the  great 
Elk  meeting,  but  Mrs.  Hemmings,  who  was  one  of  the  Whitby 
family,  equestrian  performers,  in  those  golden  days  of  the  circus 
ring,  is  intimately  acquainted  with  the  life  history  of  Dan  Eice. 
Mrs.  Hemmings,  already  as  a  child  performer,  looked  upon  Eice 
as  the  greatest  circus  man  then  alive,  and  her  reminiscences  of 
him  would  fill  a  volume. 

It  seems  a  long,  long  while  ago  when  the  name  of  Dan  ]£ice 
became  known  to  me.  I  remember  distinctly,  however,  how  the 
country  went  wild  over  Eice's  antics  in  the  sawdust  ring.  The 
older  residents  of  this  city  should  recall  easily  how  he  made  them 
shake  with  laughter.  His  history,  of  course,  it  is  not  for  me  to 
recount  here,  but  from  a  personal  standpoint,  and  that  of  my 
husband,  who  was  his  employer  once,  wTe  had  much  to  do  with 
Eice.  How  he  lost  his  fortune,  reformed  his  ways,  and  again  Lost 
his  all,  will  some  day  become  part  of  circus  history.  Two  years 
ago  he  called  on  us  and  stayed  over  night  at  the  house.  He  was, 
of  course,  not  the  same  Dan  Eice  who  used  to  amuse  the  public 
and  his  fellow-performers  alike.  But  there  was  enough  of  the 
old  favorite  about  him  to  make  the  visit  one  we  shall  long 
remember. 


KICE  AS  AN  ARTIST  AND  A  GENTLEMAN. 

BY   PARK   BENJAMIN. 

One  who  knew  the  illustrious  Dan  only  when  rigged  out  in  his 
motley  suit  and  parti-colored  garments,  would  hardly  recognize 
this  quiet  and  gentlemanly  looking  personage  on  Broadway  to  be 
one  and  the  same.  Dan  Eice  is  a  New  Yorker  born  and  bred. 
But  years  have  elapsed  since  he  first  shone  like  a  meteor  in  the 
ring,  when  his  rollicking  wit  and  contagious  humor  and  wanton 
wiles  set  the  whole  audience  in  a  roar.  We  have  seen  a  great 
many  attempts  of  fun  in  our  day,  but  never  one  who  seemed  to 
be  possessed  of  so  genuine  a  spirit  of  frolic,  with  so  capital  and 
quick  an  apprehension  of  the  humorous,  with  a  more  certain 
power  of  controlling  his  hearers  as  if  by  the  influence  of  animal 
magnetism.  If  he  goes  on  as  he  has  begun,  studying  his  art  and 
endeavoring  to  excel  in  it,  the  biography  of  the  stage  or  circus 
will  present  no  more  successful  jester.  He  will  surpass  even  the 
renowned  Joseph  Grimaldi,  whose  memoirs  employed  the  piquant 
pen  of  Charles  Dickens  through  two  very  considerable  volumes. 
There  is  a  good-looking  sobriety  and  placid  composure  in  Dan's 
countenance,  which  are  hardly  consistent  with  one's  ideas  of  the 
character  of  a  clown.  But  we  can  assure  our  readers  that  Mr. 


KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE  245 

Eice  is  a  very  respectable  man  in  private  life,  of  irreproachable 
morals,  undeviating  propriety  of  conduct,  gifted  with  feelings  of 
kindness,  courtesy,  and  benevolence.  He  does  not  imagine,  like 
too  many  of  his  profession,  he  has  a  license  of  behavior  because 
he  is  a  showman,  but  thinks  that  every  calling  can  be  rendered 
honorable  by  the  honor  of  him  who  follows  it. 

Just  after  Du  Chaillu  departed  I  met  Dan  Rice,  and  felt  about 
twenty  years  younger  in  a  moment,  for  while  I  was  a  small  boy, 
Dan  was  the  most  famous  clown  in  the  world,  and  a  bigger  man 
in  my  eyes  than  the  President  of  the  United  States  and  all  the 
crowned  heads  of  Europe  combined.  I  recalled  a  terrible  strug 
gle  within  my  little  self  in  an  Illinois  town  as  to  whether  I 
should  go  to  the  circus  to  see  Dan  Rice  or  hang  about  the  hotel 
to  see  Abe  Lincoln.  I  got  out  of  it  by  learning  that  Lincoln 
himself  had  gone  to  the  circus,  as  every  one  but  the  preachers 
did  in  those  days.  Dan  is  about  three-score-and-ten,  but  looks 
not  a  year  past  sixty,  and  is  loaded  to  the  muzzle  with  good 
stories,  which  he  fires  off  with  hair-trigger  quickness.  He  has 
put  many  of  his  recollections  in  a  book,  soon  to  be  published, 
of  which  he  has  high  hopes.  It  is  dangerously  funny,  two  men 
already  having  laughed  themselves  to  death  over  the  opening 
pages,  but  he  thinks,  perhaps,  the  victims  had  some  unsuspected 
organic  weakness  before  they  began.  Dan  was  one  of  the  few 
showmen  who  were  bigger  than  their  business.  During  the  Civil 
War  he  used  to  make  patriotic  speeches  at  each  of  his  perform 
ances  and  they  were  full  of  soul  and  sense.  He  subscribed  liber 
ally  for  many  patriotic  purposes  during  the  war,  and  for  soldiers' 
monuments  afterwards.  He  also  did  some  effective  religious 
exhorting  and  turned  an  intimate  acquaintance  with  John  Bar 
leycorn  to  good  purpose  by  lecturing  on  temperance,  in  which  he 
is  still  a  firm  believer,  although  admitting  that  there  are  notable 
exceptions  to  the  advisability  of  total  abstinence.  He  said  to  me: 
"  Drink  is  very  bad  for  most  men,  but  I  can't  learn  of  a  really 
great  man  in  the  world  who  doesn't  take  his  occasional  tod — and 
have  to  do  it." — Anonymous  N.  Y.  Letter  to  Chicago  "  Tribune." 


RICE'S  PERSONALITY. 

BY  DR.    FREDERICK  VALENTINE. 

My  first  personal  interview  with  Dan  Rice  cost  me  ju§t  $50.25 
and  I  do  not  regret  it.  He  came  to  my  little  den  on  the  18th  day 
of  October,  1893,  with  a  card  of  introduction  from  a  mutual 
friend — a  very  charming  mutual  friend  I  may  say — he  came  to 


24:6  KEM1NISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

remain  but  a  few  minutes  and  these  he  wished  to  cut  short  be 
cause  he  saw  how  busy  I  was. 

The  minutes  grew  to  hours,  that  yet  seemed  seconds.  This 
grand  old  juvenile  who  has  lightened  so  many  hearts  in  his  bluff, 
cordial  manner,  whose  charities  are  none  the  less  splendid  be 
cause  he  kept  them  secret,  whose  bonhomie  and  cheerfulness 
make  his  seventy-one  years  of  life  a  simile  of  the  perpetual 
youth  Ponce  de  Leon  did  not  find,  drove  to  oblivion  the  cares  and 
troubles  that  weigh  heavily  upon  us  all.  He  mellowed  by  his 
mere  presence,  by  his  perennial  wit,  by  his  impregnable  buoyancy, 
the  very  atmosphere,  so  that  my  engagements  for  the  day,  which 
would  have  paid  me  fifty  dollars,  were  forgotten.  He  augmented 
the  expense  by  smoking  a  cigar  that  cost  me  twenty-five  cents  at 
wholesale,  and,  irrepressible  entertainer  that  he  is,  he  consumed 
a  wealth  of  matches.  His  jokes  were  numerous,  the  cigar  con 
tinually  went  out. 

He  is  the  only  man  I  ever  met  who  can  use  the  personal  I  with 
out  appearing  egotistical.  He  has  the  modesty  which  is  an  essen 
tial  to  greatness. 

Our  conversation  was  barely  finished  when  he  clapped  one  of 
his  vigorous  hands  upon  my  shoulder  and  exclaimed:  "  Val,  my 
biography  must  be  written  and  you  are  the  culprit  to  do  it!  " 

It  was  said  in  the  manner,  in  the  voice,  and  in  the  facetious 
earnestness  with  which  erstwhile  he  made  his  bow  in  the  circus 
ring. 

So  this,  without  the  spangles  and  the  paint,  this  in  the  sober 
ness  of  real  life  was  the  great  clown — no,  "  jester."  His  every 
action  made  me  a  boy  again — wishing  the  old  tent  were  nearby, 
so  that  with  throbbing  heart  I  might  hear  the  blare  of  the  band 
and,  if  I  had  not  the  quarter  to  purchase  admission,  might  steal 
my  way  in,  to  where  the  very  air  was  redolent  with  Dan  Eice's 
jokes — and  sawdust. 

Who  could  refuse  the  offer,  who  could  decline  the  honor  of 
endeavoring  to  make  all  the  world  young  again  by  recording  the 
reminiscences  of  this  boy — this  hearty,  great,  good-natured  boy, 
though  he  has  seen  seventy-one  summers? 

"  But  I  warn  you,  old  man/'  he  said,  "  you  will  be  the  seventh 
who  undertakes  the  task." 

"The  seventh?"  Tasked. 

"  Yes,  the  first  died,  the  second  broke  his  leg,  the  third  lost 
his  mother-in-law  and  went  crazy  with  joy,  the  fourth  caught 
consumption,  the  fifth  gave  it  up  as  a  hopeless  job,  the  sixth 
merely  copied  some  of  my  incoherent  manuscript  and  got  a  hun 
dred  dollars  out  of  me — which  I  blush  to  confess.  So  if  you 
take  your  life  into  your  hands,  you  must  have  it  insured  before 
you  begin  the  work." 


JOHN    KOBLXSON 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  247 

Men  have  insured  and  lost  their  lives  in  less  worthy  causes. 

In  accepting  the  appointment  to  record  Dan  Eice's  reminis 
cences  and  jot  down  some  of  the  things  about  him  which  he  has 
not  told  me,  I  deplore  that  cold  type  is  inadequate  to  reflect  his 
inimitable  manner,  his  strong,  mobile  features,  the  silver  sheen 
of  his  hair  and  beard,  white  as  the  driven  snow — nothing  of  the 
remarkable  vitality  of  this  great-grandfather,  who  will  in  memory 
stand  as  the  prototype  of  "  Chidner,  the  ever  youthful."  To 
paraphrase  the  author, 

"  Dan  Rice  stand  immer  an  diesem  Ort 
Und  wird  so  stehen  ewig  fort." 


THE  RECOLLECTIONS  OF  A   VETERAN. 

INTERESTING    REMINISCENCES    OF    THE    DAYS    OF    THE    ONE 
HORSE  SHOW. 

Uncle  Dan  Rice,  the  veteran  showman  and  clown,  entertained 
quite  a  coterie  of  old  friends  and  acquaintances  at  the  Emmitt 
House  yesterday  afternoon.  At  the  conclusion  of  his  lecture, 
which  seemed  to  be  vastly  appreciated  by  the  audience,  a  "  Daily 
Xews  "  representative  sought  and  obtained  an  interview  with 
him.  Seated  in  the  reading-room  of  the  above-mentioned  hos 
telry,  a  very  pleasing  hour  was  spent  in  chatting  with  the  veteran 
of  the  sawdust  arena,  probably  the  most  popular  and  original 
man  that  ever  donned  the  motley  garb,  and  made  jocund  the 
rural  heart  with  genial  quips  and  jests.  Although  placarded  and 
billed  generally  as  the  "  Clown  of  our  Daddies,"  and  from  the 
familiarity  and  notoriety  attached  to  his  name,  Mr.  Rice  is  not 
a  Methuselah  as  might  be  supposed  by  many.  His  May  of  life 
has  not  fallen  into  the  seer,  the  yellow  leaf,  as  Mr.  Macbeth  re 
marked  of  himself,  to  any  considerable  degree.  To  our  repre 
sentative  he  appeared  like  a  well-preserved  gentleman,  slightly 
this  side  of  his  sixtieth -milestone  on  the  journey  of  life.  He  is 
stoutly  built,  of  a  good  figure,  and  from  his  philosophical  and 
contented  appearance,  the  reporter  came  to  the  conclusion  that 
he  was  comfortably  lined  with  good  Emmit  House  capon.  A 
shrewd,  kindly,  weather-beaten  face,  ornamented  by  a  snowy 
beard  dependent  from  his  chin,  beamed  above  a  billowy  expanse 
of  white  vest.  When  he  opened  the  floodgates  of  mind  and  mem 
ory,  the  talk  flowed  incessantly,  and  was  frequently  enlivened  by 
a  ripple  like  a  dash  of  epigram  or  satire.  As  he  had  just  stated  in 
his  lecture  that  he  used  to  be  a  frequent  visitor  to  Chillicothe, 
the  reporter  asked  him  when  he  last  came  here.  He  replied  that 


248  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

he  believed  it  was  in  1864,  when  he  gave  an  exhibition  on  the  old 
Campbell  lot.  "  I  have  been  all  around  here  since,  but  haven't 
touched  Chillicothe  or  Circleville,  which  used  to  be  a  nice  little 
town.  I  travelled  by  canal  then,  and  had  my  one-horse  show. 
There  were  only  two  asistants  in  my  business  then.  One  was 
Jim  O'Connell,  the  tattooed  man,  and  the  very  best  performer 
in  his  way  I  ever  saw.  The  other  was  Jean  Johnson,  who  did 
song  and  dance  and  negro  business.  Johnson  is  now  in  Cincin 
nati,  a  broken-down  wreck.  Poor  O'Connell  is  under  the  daisies. 
He  used  to  do  an  egg  dance  and  other  surprising  feats,  and  got 
off  a  thrilling  account  of  his  adventures  in  the  Fiji  Islands, 
where  he  pretended  to  have  been  tattooed.  His  last  request  was 
unique,  and  in  accordance  with  it,  after  he  was  committed  to  the 
earth,  my  band  played  a  lively  tune,  and  Johnson  danced  a  horn 
pipe  over  his  grave.  These  two  boys,  with  the  band,  myself  as 
clown,  with  songs  and  introduction  of  the  horse,  made  up  a  better 
show,  I  believe,  and  gave  more  genuine  entertainment,  than  a 
great  many  of  the  more  pretentious  ones  nowadays."  "  The 
war  had  a  rather  depressing  effect  upon  the  business,  did  it  not?  " 
queried  the  reporter.  "  Bless  you,  no;  why  we  fattened  on  our 
country's  calamities.  The  greenbacks  were  plentiful  then,  and 
I  made  more  money  than  I  ever  did  before  in  my  life.  John 
Morgan  ruined  several  circuses,  and  caught  me  out  in  Indiana, 
getting  away  with  eight  of  my  horses.  I  knew  him  and  went 
straight  to  his  quarters  and  told  my  doleful  tale.  He  immedi 
ately  wrote  out  an  order  and  sent  a  man  with  me  to  redeem  my 
property.  '  You  see,  Dan/  he  explained,  '  the  boys  were  out 
foraging,  and  they  are  no  respecters  of  persons/  He  was  a  gal 
lant  fellow.  That  was  the  only  difficulty  of  that  kind  that  I  ever 
encountered,  and  you  see  I  got  out  of  that  very  nicely."  In  re 
sponse  to  another  question,  Uncle  Dan  said:  "I  have  been  a 
clown  over  forty-one  years,  and  I  propose  to  remain  in  the  harness 
until  the  last.  I  am  organizing  now  in  Cincinnati,  and  preparing 
to  start  out  upon  the  road  again  next  season.  These  lectures 
that  I  deliver  are  a  little  side  play,  I  can't  abide  idleness,  and 
must  be  doing  something.  I  would  die  if  I  could  not  be  em 
ployed  at  some  kind  of  work.  The  political  excitement  is  too 
strong  now  to  make  any  kind  of  an  exhibition  profitable.  I  am 
an  old-time  Whig  and  am  not  greatly  interested  which  way  the 
tide  turns;  I  believe  in  country  above  all  parties.  I  shall  return 
to  Chillicothe  and  deliver  a  lecture  which  will  be  a  continuation 
of  the  one  given  to-night.  The  theme  is  endless  and  boundless, 
and  the  beauty  of  it  is  that  you  can  talk  about  anything. — "  The 
Daily  News,"  Chillicothe,  0.,  November  10,  1884. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN     RICE  249 

TRIBUTES. 
DAN   RICE,    CLOWN,   DEAD. 

HIS  DEATH  AT  LONG  BRANCH  DUE  TO  BRIGHT^S  DISEASE — 
CAREER  OF  THE  FAMOUS  RING  JOKER  WHO  BEGAN  LIFE 
AS  A  STABLE  BOY  AND  MADE  AND  LOST  THREE  FOR 
TUNES—  HIS  EDUCATION  IN  SHAKESPEARE — HIS  NAME 

WAS  MCLAREN. 

LONG  BRANCH,  X.  J.,  Feb.  22. — Dan  Rice,  the  veteran  clown, 
died  to-night  at  seven  o'clock  after  a  lingering  illness.  He  was 
seventy-seven  years  old.  Mr.  Rice  suffered  from  Bright's  dis 
ease  and  dropsy,  but  he  had  been  able  to  go  out  for  a  drive  until 
a  week  ago,  when  he  took  to  his  bed.  At  the  time  of  his  last 
illness  he  was  writing  a  book  on  his  life.  He  had  about  com 
pleted  the  closing  chapter. 

Dan  Rice's  real  name  was  Daniel  McLaren.  He  was  born  in 
Xew  York  City.  His  father,  Daniel  McLaren,  nicknamed  the 
boy  Dan  Rice,  after  a  famous  clown  in  Ireland.  After  his 
father's  death  his  mother  married  a  man  named  Manahan,  who 
had  a  dairy  near  Freehold,  Monmouth  County,  N".  J.,  and  Dan, 
when  a  small  boy,  delivered  milk  to  his  stepfather's  customers. 
His  sister  Elizabeth  married  Jacob  Showles,  a  circus  rider,  who 
•resides  at  Long  Branch,  N.  J.  Dan,  weary  of  the  milk  route, 
struck  out  for  himself  when  young  and  made  his  way  to  Pitts- 
burg,  where  he  was  successively  stable-boy,  race-rider,  and  hack 
driver.  After  a  little  time,  under  the  name  of  Dan  Rice,  he 
achieved  prominence,  if  not  exactly  fame,  as  the  owner  and  ex 
hibitor  of  a  learned  pig,  with  which  he  and  a  man  named  Lindsay 
travelled  through  Pennsylvania  and  neighboring  States.  Rice 
and  Lindsay  sang  songs  and  danced,  but-the  pig  was  the  principal 
attraction. 

Old  friends  of  Dan  relate  that  the  death  of  the  star  performer 
broke  up  the  show  and  he  drifted  out  to  Naucoo,  111.,  where  the 
Mormons  then  were  under  Joseph  Smith's  leadership,  and  re 
mained  with  them  for  a  time.  He  returned  to  Pittsburg  and 
went  to  hack  driving  again.  He  married  there  his  first  wife, 
and  came  to  New  York  in  1844,  making  here  his  first  appearance 
as  a  clown  and  negro  song  and  dance  performer  with  Dr.  Spauld- 
ing's  company  in  the  Old  Bowery  Amphitheatre,  then  under  the 
management  of  John  Tryon.  In  the  company  with  him  at  that 
time  were  Barney  Williams,  Dan  Emmett,  Dan  Gardner,  Frank 
W.  Whittaker  and  others  whose  names  have  since  attained  wide 
celebrity  on  the  stage  and  in  the  ring. 


250  KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

In  the  season  of  1845  Dan  travelled  with  Seth  B.  Howe's 
Circus.  Seth  B.  Howe  was  a  brother  of  Nathan  Howe,  one  of 
the  old  "  flat-foot  combination/''  which  started  the  famous 
Zoological  Institute  at  37  Bowery.  He  billed  and  advertised 
Dan  Rice  more  extensively  than  any  clown  ever  was  advertised 
before  in  this  country.  One  of  his  advertising  dodges  was  to 
supply  Dan  with  a  special  carriage  and  horses  to  take  him 
through  the  country.  In  the  winter  of  1845-40  Dan  made  his 
first  appearance  in  Philadelphia  in  Gen.  Rufus  Welch's  National 
Amphitheatre,  which  was  then  at  the  corner  of  Ninth  and  Chest 
nut  Streets,  on  the  site  now  occupied  by  the  Continental  Hotel. 
At  that  time  he  was  simply  a  good  "  rough  knock-about  clown/' 
in  the  phraseology  of  the  ring,  not  quick  to  catch  points  on  the 
audience  from  the  ringmaster,  and  innocent  of  any  knowledge 
of  Shakespeare.  He  tried  successively  Nicholas  Johnson  and 
Ben  Young,  both  actors,  and  Horace  Nichols  and  somebody  else, 
in  the  capacity  of  ringmaster,  yet  could  not  make  a  hit  with 
either.  Finally  he  got  Frank  \\.  Whittaker,  who  was  at  the  time 
master  of  the  ring  for  other  clowns  in  the  same  show,  assigned  to 
him,  and  on  his  first  night  made  a  hit,  on  business  suggested 
by  Whittaker,  which  carried  him  into  instant  popularity  with 
Philadelphia  audiences. 

That  hit  cost  Sandy  Jamieson,  leader  of  the  orchestra,  a  new 
violin,  for  the  part  of  the  funny  business  consisted  in  Dan's 
tumbling  Frank  headlong  among  the  orchestra. 

During  the  summer  of  184:0  Rice  was  a  clown  with  \Yelch's 
travelling  show  in  Canada,  and  in  the  succeeding  year  he  went  to 
Newr  Orleans,  with  his  first  manager,  Dr.  Spaulding.  At  this 
time,  it  is  said,  Mr.  Van  Orden,  a  brother-in-law  of  Dr.  Spauld 
ing,  took  a  liking  to  Dan  and  urged  him  to  much-needed  mental 
improvement,  supplying  him  with  Shakespeare,  Byron,  and  other 
dramatic  and  poetic  works,  aiding  him  in  making  from  them  the 
selections  on  which  he  subsequently  became  known  as  a  "  Shakes 
pearean  clown,"  and  encouraging  him  in  study,  not  only  for  his 
professional  purposes  but  for  the  acquisition  of  general  knowl 
edge.  Mr.  Van  Orden  also  wrote  a  number  of  Rice's  most  popu 
lar  songs.  After  a  season  or  two  Rice  obtained  an  interest  with 
Dr.  Spaulding  and  that  connection  was  kept  up  until  about  1850, 
when  they  separated.  In  1853,  in  consequence  of  some  legal 
proceedings  institued  by  Spaulding  for  recovery  of  payment  for 
a  show  with  which  he  had  fitted  Rice  out  a  couple  of  years  before, 
Rice  lost  a  handsome  farm  which  he  had  acquired  in  Columbia 
County,  N.  Y.  Shortly  after  that  Dan  bought  a  homestead  in 
Girard,  Pa.,  and  a  fine  farm  two  or  three  miles  from  that  town, 
where  he  sheltered  his  show  in  the  winter. 

By  1850  he  had  so  far  recovered  from  the  disaster  which  fol- 


BEMIXISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  251 

lowed  the  severance  of  his  connection  with  Spaulding  that  he 
was  deemed  a  wealthy  man  and  certainly  was  a  popular  one 
wherever  he  travelled.  For  he  was  a  genial,  whole-souled  fellow, 
kind  and  generous,  seeming  to  think  nothing  of  riches  more  than 
as  a  means  to  promote  the  happiness  of  all  around  him.  Fortune 
smiled  upon  him  steadily  up  to  1800,  when  there  was  a  separation 
between  him  and  his  wife.  Old  snowmen  said:  "  Dan  lost  his 
luck  when  he  parted  from  her." 

She  was  spoken  of  as  a  noble  woman,  who  by  gentle  methods 
supplied  Dan  with  the  guidance  which  he  needed.  She  had 
never  been  a  professional  before  her  marriage,  but  he  taught  her 
a  "  manege  act,"  which  she  continued  to  do  up  to  the  time  of 
their  separation.  Her  daughter  Elizabeth  became  the  wife  of 
Charles  Reed,  a  celebrated  pad  rider.  The  daughter  Catherine 
married  and  lived  in  Girard,  Pa.,  with  her  mother.  Soon  after 
her  divorce,  Mrs.  Rice  married  Charles  Warren,  Rice's  treasurer, 
who  had  acted  as  agent  between  husband  and  wife  in  the  negotia 
tions  preceding  the  divorce,  and  the  couple  rejoined  the  show, 
he  proposing  to  continue  to  act  as  treasurer  and  she  to  continue 
her  riding,  but  after  a  short  time  both  places  were  vacant. 

In  the  early  part  of  I860  Rice's  show  journeyed  by  wagons 
from  the  East  to  St.  Louis,  where  a  steamboat  was  bought  for  the 
transportation  of  the  company  through  the  rivers  and  bayous 
of  the  South.  It  is  related  that  at  about  that  time  Charles  Reed 
and  Julian  Kent  were  apprentices  with  Dan  Rice  and  he  required 
them  under  all  circumstances  on  Sunday  to  read  to  him  from  one 
to  three  chapters  of  the  Bible,  an  eccentricity  akin  to  that  which 
prompted  him  to  build  meeting-houses  for  the  colored  people 
down  South.  He  is  said  to  have  built  half  a  dozen  meeting 
houses.  From  I860  to  1862  he  was  in  the  South.  The  story 
got  afloat  in  the  Xorth  that  Dan  had  bloomed  out  as  a  rampant 
rebel,  and  when  he  appeared  in  the  Walnut  Street  Theatre,  Phila 
delphia,  in  the  winter  of  1862-63,  he  met  with  a  very  hostile 
reception. 

When  the  supposed  rebel  appeared  in  the  ring  there  was  a 
crowded  house  to  greet  him  with  a  tornado  of  hisses,  groans,  yells 
of  "secessionist,"  "  Johnny  Reb,"  and  suggestions  that  he  should 
be  shot  or  hanged.  Fortunately  for  himself  he  had  the  courage 
to  stand  up  in  the  ring  and  face  his  accusers  until  they  were 
weary  of  shouting.  Then  he  told  them  that  he  was  and  always 
had  been  a  Union  man,  that  his  home  and  interests  were  North 
ern,  but  that  he  could  not  get  out  of  the  Confederacy  sooner  or 
otherwise  than  he  did,  and  that  he  had  done  nothing  that  he 
deemed  deserved  any  apology.  His  manliness,  even  more  than 
his  words,  won  for  him  new  consideration,  but  though  there  was 
no  longer  any  idea  of  mobbing  him,  enough  doubt  was  left  in 


252  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

many  minds  to  cast  a  shadow  over  his  popularity.  In  18G3  hl.s 
show,  after  a  disastrous  season,  went  to  pieces  and  most  of  it  was 
sold  for  debt.  Out  of  the  wreck  he  saved  his  famous  trick  horse 
Excelsior  and  his  pair  of  trained  Burmese  cattle.  He  was  the 
first  man  who  ever  trained  and  introduced  in  the  ring  a  perform 
ing  rhinoceros.  In  18(>i  a  contract  for  two  seasons  was  made 
with  Forepaugh,  by  which  Eice  received  for  his  services  as  a 
clown  and  for  the  services  of  his  trained  horse  and  cattle  $35,000 
for  each  season.  In  I860  he  got  $1,000  per  week  through  the 
season  as  clown  with  John  O'Brien,  and  for  a  season  of  twenty- 
six  weeks  in  1867  he  received  $21,500  from  Gardner,  Hemmings 
&  Cooper's  Circus. 

From  that  time  on  his  star  seemed  to  be  steadily  waning.  His 
property  at  Girard  was  swept  away  by  the  foreclosure  of  a  mort 
gage.  He  had  married  again.  His  second  wife,  the  daughter  of 
a  banker  in  Girard,  owned  a  considerable  amount  of  property  in 
her  own  right,  but  Eice  was  ruined.  Disappointment  seemed 
to  embitter  him  and  his  habits  grew  worse,  but  he  kept  in  the 
ring  as  clown  each  season  with  young  circus  men.  In  1881  he 
was  out  with  Will  Stow,  under  the  firm  name  of  Rice  &  Stow, 
but  the  partnership  was  dissolved  by  his  enforced  retirement 
before  the  close  of  the  season.  Some  years  ago  he  struck  an  oil 
well  on  his  wife's  property  in  Girard,  put  up  a  derrick,  set  a  drill 
at  work,  organized  a  stock  company  and  sold  stock  to  Avery 
Smith,  Seth  B.  Howe,  and  J.  J.  Nathans  and  other  "  old-timers  " 
of  the  circus  business,  but  it  was  soon  ascertained  that  there  was 
not  a  pint  of  petroleum  within  a  hundred  miles  of  the  well. 

In  1878  Dan  Eice  reformed  in  St.  Louis,  and  afterward  de 
livered  temperance  lectures,  occasionally  slipping  back  into  old 
paths.  Forepaugh  once  said  that  he  would  let  Dan  Eice  fix  his 
own  terms  for  a  season  in  California  if  he  would  engage  to  keep 
sober  the  season  through,  but  the  offer  was  refused.  In  1879 
Nathans,  June  &  Bailey  telegraphed  to  Dan,  in  Girard,  that  they 
would  pay  him  his  own  price  as  a  clown  for  four  weeks  in  this 
city,  if  he  would  permit  his  salary  to  stand  until  the  conclusion 
of  his  engagement  as  a  bond  for  his  sobriety.  He  refused  the 
offer,  saying  that  he  would  rather  have  a  hundred  dollars  a  week 
and  liberty  to  do  as  he  pleased  than  any  terms  on  such  conditions. 

In  Girard  at  one  time  he  ran  a  newspaper  called  the  "  Cosmo 
polite."  He  sought  election  to  Congress  in  1879  from  that  dis 
trict,  but  failed  to  get  it.  When  wealthy  he  gave  away  great 
sums  of  money  to  public  institutions  in  that  part  of  the  country, 
and  still  more,  it  is  said,  in  private  charities.  He  built  a  sol 
diers'  monument  said  to  have  cost  $35,000.  Yet,  as  an  old  show 
man  and  friend  of  his  said,  there  were  long  years  in  which  Eice 
could  not  borrow  five  dollars  in  Girard  if  he  wanted  it. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  253 

During  the  war  General  Fremont  seized  a  steamer  Rice  owned, 
the  "  James  Raymond,"  at  St.  Louis,  and  made  use  of  it  for  Gov 
ernment  purposes.  Rice  applied  to  the  Government  for  com 
pensation  and  $33,000  damages  was  awarded  him.  At  his  re 
quest  this  money  was  spent  by  President  Lincoln  and  Secretary 
Stanton  caring  for  wounded  soldiers  and  their  families. 

Dan  Rice  made  three  fortunes,  but  died  a  comparatively  poor 
man.  He  married  three  times.  His  third  wife  survives  him. 
She  lives  in  Texas. — "  Xew  York  Sun." 


REMINISCENCES. 

PERSONAL  —  WITTY  —  HUMOROUS  —  GRAVE  AND  GAY  —  LIVELY 
AND  SEVERE  —  JOKES  —  JESTS  —  ANECDOTES  —  SATIRES  — 
SONGS — SPEECHES  ETC. 

DAX  RICE,  THE  HUMORIST. 

There  are  reforms  in  everything  mundane.  Reforms  are  the 
first  great  causes  of  revolutions,  they  have  been  the  pioneers  in 
the  marches  of  improvement,  they  have  founded  new  faiths,  es 
tablished  liberal  governments,  peopled  new  countries,  crushed 
out  feudal  systems  in  the  old  world,  and  destroyed  illiberal  preju 
dices  in  the  new.  Reforms  are  antagonistical  to  the  old  fogyism, 
they  are  the  beacon  lights  of  the  "  good  times  coming." 

In  the  latter  sixties  liberal  teachers,  a  cheap  press,  and  com 
mon  schools  were  not,  as  to-day,  indispensable  aids  to  our  exist 
ence.  Then  good  common  sense  alone  actuated  every  thinking 
man  to  coolly  examine  each  object  presented  either  for  public 
benefit  or  enjoyment.  What  was  then  an  intellectual  feast  de 
generated  later  into  a  saturnalia  of  sensual  gratifications.  Whilst 
the  dark  veil  of  proscription  once  thrown  around  the  charmed 
circle  of  the  circus  arena  had  not  been  entirely  dispelled  by  the 
light  of  liberality,  and  public  amusements  regarded  as  they  are 
to-day  necessary  institutions,  affording  a  healthy  relaxation  for 
the  masses,  yet  withal  a  Puritanic  spirit  of  intolerance  made  it 
self  felt  to  such  an  extent  that  for  many  years  a  bitter  war  was 
waged  against  the  vulgar  circus  of  early  days,  which  sought  alone 
to  gratify  a  coarse  mind  at  the  expense  of  the  intellectual.  Colo 
nel  Rice  at  first  resented  the  seemingly  bigoted  and  unjust  criti 
cism  of  the  circus  world,  as  a  whole,  and  for  a  while  bore  the 
brunt  of  a. battle  which  involved  him  in  an  interminable  tangle  of 
criminations  and  recriminations.  Later  Uncle  Dan  saw  a  new 
light,  and,  guided  by  its  inspiration,  became  an  ally  of  the  pulpit 
and  the  press.  As  a  result,  reform  in  circus  methods  was  actively 


25rt  REMIXISCEXCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

urged.  Colonel  Rice's  efforts  were  crowned  with  success.  He 
soon  drew  an  air  of  refinement  around  the  arena,  that  in  the  days 
of  the  Olympiad  was  so  purely  classical.,  and  made  it  here  a  place 
where  the  elite,  the  profound,  the  philosopher,  the  naturalist,  and 
the  admirer  of  physical  beauty,  could  resort  to  for  amusement, 
reflection,  and  instruction.  He  restored  to  the  people  the  gains 
of  the  curriculum,  the  beauties  of  chivalry,  the  taming  of  wild 
beasts  as  in  the  days  of  ancient  Koine,  all  in  all,  revolutionized 
the  stale  and  salacious  forms  of  amusement  so  prevalent  in  the 
past.  The  thousands  of  well-educated,  intelligent  people,  who 
in  every  section  of  the  country,  liberally  sustained  both  the  per 
manent  and  transitory  exhibitions,  quickly  evinced  by  their  lib 
eral  patronage  Colonel  Rice's  laudatory  efforts  to  cleanse  the 
Augean  stables.  Questionable  by-play,  indecent  gestures,  and 
suggestive  jests  were  no  longer  tolerated,  their  places  being 
usurped  by  rollicking  but  refined  humor,  repartee,  pungent  but 
stingless  satires  and  true  wit,  supplemented  by  a  spectacular 
splendor  which  had  hitherto  never  been  equalled  and  certainly 
never  surpassed.  Xo  man,  therefore,  did,  between  I860  and 
1870,  more  to  bring  about  this  salutary  reaction  than  Dan  Rice. 
He  made  the  arena  a  place  of  classic  resort.  The  grovelling 
babbler  in  spotted  dress,  and  the  low  buffoon  were  quickly  driven 
from  the  ring,  so  there  is  little  occasion  or  wonder  why  he  then 
stood  out  so  proudly  and  wron  such  world-wide  fame  as  the  most 
original  humorist  of  his  day. 

Dan  Rice  had  a  genius  for  fun.  His  humors  were  adapted  to 
the  times,  his  hits  local,  his  satire  telling,  his  wit  pointed,  his 
jokes  harmless,  and  his  conversational  powers  unlimited.  As  the 
man  who  tells  a  good  story  at  the  festive  board  is  indispensable 
at  a  goodly  gathering,  so  is  the  presence  of  the  King  of  Jesters 
absolutely  required  in  a  Great  Show.  He  was  as  the  central 
figure  of  the  tan-bark  circle,  the  man  wrhom,  above  all,  the  people 
most  admired.  With  an  enviable  reputation  for  integrity  of 
character,  and  a  universal  fame  as  the  most  amusing  man  of  mod 
ern  times,  his  name  was  a  tower  of  strength.  Amongst  the  upper 
circles  of  the  metropolitan  cities,  in  the  villages,  towns,  and  ham 
lets  of  all  this  broad  domain,  Dan  Rice  wa»  the  magnet  of  attrac 
tion.  Individually  he  had  more  personal  friends  and  supporters 
than  any  artist  of  his  times. 

It  seems  that  sovereignties  are  never  complete  without  a  clown 
in  motley.  Every  court  has  had  its  fool  and  each  king  its  jester 
with  cap  and  bells,  the  fool  usually  possessing  more  wit  than  his 
master.  As  it  was  in  ancient  times,  so  it  is  in  these  modern  days. 
The  sovereign  people  right  royally  crowned  Dan  Rice  their 
peerless  Prince  of  Jesters.  This  renowned  professor  in  the  Court 
of  Momus  has  been  before  the  public  for  fifty  years.  His  songs, 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    1UCE  255 

jokes,  and  drolleries  were  always  free  from  the  vulgarity  which 
usually  characterizes  the  sayings  of  the  ring  and  wholly  devoid  of 
anything  which  could  oft'end  the  most  fastidious.  Indeed  Dan 
Rice  stood  alone  in  the  profession  he  adopted  and  which  he  has 
raised  far  above  what  it  formerly  was.  His  versatility  of  talent 
was  remarkable,  and  his  occasional  flashes  of  genius  astonished 
even  those  who  were  most  intimately  acquainted  with  him.  As 
the  fancy  took  him  he  changed  from  gay  to  grave,  from  the  lu 
dicrous  to  the  sublime,  from  the  most  pathetic  portrayal  to  the 
most  pungent,  piercing  satire  with  a  marvellous  rapidity  that 
stamped  him  as  a  genius  and  the  premier  artist  of  his  generation. 

AXCIENT  AND  MODERN  QUIDDITIES. 

The  art  of  making  anecdotes,  jokes,  puns,  and  other  witticisms 
is  of  much  greater  importance  than  many  people  are  apt  to 
imagine.  In  certain  dull  seasons  of  torpid  repose,  when  wars  are 
vexatiously  rare,  and  murders  seldom  occur,  and  highway  robber 
ies  are  scarcely  known,  and  conflagrations,  tornadoes,  earth 
quakes,  freshets,  breaches  of  marriage  contract  and  Dakota  di 
vorce  mills  are  not  working  overtime  to  occasionally  relieve  the 
universal  drowsiness,,  the  exercise  of  this  art  is  most  especially 
requisite. 

The  ancients,  when  tired  of  recording  marvellous  things  for 
the  purpose  of  exciting  astonishment,  wisely  sought  to  refresh 
the  world  with  jokes,  quips,  and  quiddities.  Merriment  was  the 
sauce,  the  catsup,  that  made  more  palative  the  more  solid  viands. 
Relaxation  was  found  to  be  of  infinite  service,  it  contributed  to 
keep  people  properly  in  countenance,  for  after  a  long  stretch  of 
the  muscles  over  the  miraculously  tough  tales  of  Pliny,  Livy, 
Plutarch  and  other  wonder-mongers,  men's  phizes  were  discov 
ered  to  be  most  alarmingly  lengthened  insomuch  that  chins 
dropped  into  waistbands,  nether  lips  were  in  danger  of  being 
trodden  upon.  Whereupon  I,  Mr.  Rice,  and  other  fun-giving 
wags,  sought  to  apply  remedies  in  the  form  of  fable  and  epigram, 
divers  laughter  disposing  cranks,  reflecting  like  characters  or 
charms  upon  the  fearful  rigidity  and  longitudity  of  aspect,  and 
brought  back  the  distant  faces  of  all  that  were  curable  to  their 
natural  expansion  of  feature.  Mouths  that  form  a  continual 
application  of  the  terrific  and  amazing  had  acquired  a  monstrous 
prominence  towards  the  centre  of  gravity,  were  observed  to  cor 
rugate  into  a  pleasant  horizontal,  sometimes  even  turning  up  at 
the  corners,  into  a  curve  from  ear  to  ear;  eyes  upon  whose  pro 
tuberant  spheres  one  might  have  traced  the  heavens  and  the  earth 
as  it  were,  upon  globes  celestial  and  terrestrial,  sank  comfortably 
into  their  sockets,  guarded  and  encompassed  by  the  crowfoot  of 


256  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

gayety.  Thus  b}r  making  a  judicious  average  of  horror  and  mer 
riment  the  "  human  face  divine  "  was  preserved  in  due  shape, 
the  visage  of  man,  like  a  washed  stocking,  being  useless  when 
pulled  to  its  utmost  length. 

Three-fourths  of  the  bon-mots,  witty  sayings,  and  tart  repar 
tees  with  which  the  world  has  been  diverted  since  the  days  of 
Nebuchanezzar,  are  fabulous  ones  made  out  of  whole  cloth  that 
contains  less  warp  than  filling,  without  foundation,  consistency, 
or  plausibility. 

An  honest,  an  authentice  history  of  the  origin  of  all  genuine 
articles  of  this  sort,  and  a  biography  of  the  inventors  of  such 
as  were  manufactured  for  sport,  would  be  highly  amusing  at  this 
present  juncture.  Indeed  a  work  of  such  nature  is  much  needed. 
It  might  throw  such  light  on  the  art  of  making  fun,  which,  to 
certain  hard-driven  wit-snappers,  would  be  of  exceedingly  great 
value. 


COLONEL  EICE   TELLS   OF   EARLY  DAYS   OF   THE 

CIRCUS. 

THE  VETERAN  SHOWMAN  TELLS  OF  THE  FAKE  SPANISH  MAN 
OF  IRON — HIS  CANNON  BALLS  TURNED  OUT  TO  BE  IN 
FLATED  RUBBER — THE  GREAT  HOODED  PYTHON  OF  THE 
AMAZON  AND  OTHER  FAKES  TO  FOOL  THE  UNSUSPECTING 
PUBLIC. 

DAN  ATTRIBUTES  His  EARLY    SUCCESS  TO  A  RED-HEADED 

GIRL. 

There  are  tricks  in  all  trades,  and  I  suppose  the  circus  business 
is  included  in  the  category.  In  all  my  career  I  guarded  against 
impostures  and  fraud  of  all  kinds,  well  knowing  that  I  had  a 
reputation  to  maintain,  but  in  spite  of  all  my  strenuous  efforts, 
my  agents  would  occasionally  trick  me,  and  succeed  in  cleverly 
humbugging  the  American  public,  which,  as  all  showmen  know, 
loves  to  be  humbugged.  One  incident  of  the  kind  in  particular 
occurs  to  my  mind. 

It  was  while  playing  in  the  Eastern  States  in  the  early  '50's, 
that  I  picked  up  Bill  Turner,  who,  I  am  safe  in  saying,  was  the 
shrewdest  showman  I  ever  saw,  but  he  was  unscrupulous.  Bill 
was  a  likely  looking  young  Yankee,  smart  and  active,  and  quickly 
arose  from  one  position  to  another  until  he  became  assistant  man 
ager  of  my  circus.  At  Newburyport,  Mass.,  Signor  Gustivo,  the 
Italian  Samson,  otherwise  Bill  Smith,  of  Bennett's  Mills,  N.  J., 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  257 

\vlio  had  been  astonishing  circus-goers  by  his  prodigious  feats  of 
strength.,  got  angry  at  something  and  deserted  the  show. 

That  put  me  in  a  serious  predicament,  for  he  had  been  widely 
advertised,  and  I  had  no  one  to  take  his  place.  It  was  at  that 
juncture  that  Bill  Turner  appeared  and  sought  an  interview  with 
me  at  my  hotel,  which  ended  in  my  engaging  at  $100  a  week, 
Don  Sebastian,  the  Spanish  man  of  iron,  whose  specialty  was 
toying  with  large  cannon  balls. 

Turner  was  engaged  at  moderate  salary  as  attendant  upon  Don 
Sebastian,  who  was  as  bright  a  looking  Irishman  as  I  ever  saw. 
The  engagement  began  at  an  afternoon  performance,  when  it 
took  four  men  to  carry  Sebastian's  chest,  containing  four  cannon 
balls,  into  the  ring.  The  ringmaster  announced  the  performance 
of  a  few  feats  of  strength  and  endurance  by  the  strongest  man 
in  the  world,  who  handled  cannon  balls  of  two  hundred  pounds 
weight  as  easily  as  a  lady  would  handle  balls  of  yarn.  Sebastian 
picked  up  the  balls  from  the  chest  and  laid  them  with  a  deep, 
dull  thud  on  the  platform.  Then  he  placed  a  ball  on  each  shoul 
der,  where  he  balanced  it,  while  he  lightly  tossed  a  third  to  the 
top  of  the  tent  and  gracefully  caught  it  in  its  descent.  The  audi 
ence  went  wild  over  his  performance,  and  manifested  their  en 
thusiastic  appreciation  in  a  tremendous  outburst  of  applause  as 
he  ran  lightly  from  the  ring.  I  was  more  than  satisfied  with  his 
success. 

Don  Sebastian  proved  to  be  one  of  the  strong  drawing  cards 
of  my  circus  for  several  weeks,  when,  to  my  surprise,  I  one  day 
noticed  that  when  he  laid  the  balls  upon  the  platform  the  sound 
of  their  fall  did  not  ring  out  until  a  suspiciously  long  time  after 
wards.  I  at  once  realized  that  there  was  some  fraud  concealed  in 
the  strong  man's  performance;  therefore  the  unrivalled  reputa 
tion  of  my  circus  was  at  stake,  and  so  at  once  quietly  began  an 
investigation,  with  the  result  that  the  Spanish  Iron  man  was  sat 
isfactorily  proven  to  be  a  rank  fraud. 

The  cannon  balls  proved  to  be  made  of  rubber  and  were  in 
flated  with  air  like  footballs.  The  dull,  deep  thud  which  re 
sounded  when  the  balls  touched  the  platform  was  made  with  a 
heavy  hammer  in  the  hands  of  an  accomplice  behind  the  curtain. 
I  felt  outraged  at  the  deception  and  sorry  for  the  duped  public, 
and  hauled  Turner  vigorously  over  the  coals,  while  Don  Sebas 
tian  was  reduced  in  rank  and  made  a  candy  butcher. 

Had  I  known  that  Turner  was  a  party  to  the  deception,  I  would 
have  immediately  discharged  him.  In  view  of  subsequent  events 
I  concluded  that  Turner  was  the  leader  in  the  iron-man  fraud. 
Upon  entering  a  Kentucky  town,  after  a  few  days'  absence  from 
the  show,  I  found  one  of  our  most  extensively  advertised  attrac 
tions  to  be  the  "  Great  Hooded  Python  of  the  Amazon,  38  feet 
17 


258  KEMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    KICE 

in  length.  The  only  specimen  in  captivity."  It  was  further 
represented  that  so  powerful  and  venomous  was  this  reptile,  it 
was  necessary  to  keep  the  monster  constantly  under  the  influence 
of  opiates.  Upon  entering  the  circus  I  found  a  great  crowd  of 
people  viewing  the  python,  which  was  coiled  in  apparently  deep 
slumber  in  a  glass-enclosed  cage.  It  was  a  great  loathsome  rep 
tile,  eight  inches  through.  Turner  satisfactorily  accounted  for 
its  presence,  and  it  drew  crowds  until  I  accidentally  discovered 
that  it  was  cleverly  made  of  linsey  woolsey  and  stuffed  with  saw 
dust. 

In  calmly  looking  back  over  the  years  I  can  plainly  see  that 
Bill  Turner  lacked  conscientious  scruples.  There  was  the  in 
ebriate  bear,  for  instance.  That  was  his  contrivance.  It  was 
somewhere  in  the  South  that  such  a  creature  was  exhibited  and 
lavishly  advertised  as  "  A  great  animated  temperence  lecture, 
approved  by  pulpit  and  press."  I  saw  the  attraction.  It  was  a 
black  bear  that  at  every  performance  waddled  into  the  ring  and 
drank  copiously  from  a  large  bottle  of  cheap  whiskey  until  thor 
oughly  intoxicated,  when  it  would  ludicrously  stagger  back  to  its 
cage.  One  day  I  was  horrified  to  hear  the  drunken  bear  burst 
out  with  a  torrent  of  profanity,  which  was  followed  by  the 
maudlin  singing  of  "  Landlord,  Fill  the  Flowing  Bowl,"  while 
the  disgusting  creature  was  led  to  a  cage  behind  the  curtain.  I 
humbly  apologized  to  the  audience  and  said  that  there  was  no 
accounting  for  the  work  of  whiskey. 

Without  delay  I  went  behind  the  curtain,  stripped  the  bear 
skin  from  the  insulting  drunkard,  and  gave  Fen  Dole,  a  canvas- 
man,  the  worst  licking  of  his  life  for  his  part  in  the  most  out 
rageous  fraud  ever  perpetrated  upon  an  unsuspecting  and  gulli 
ble  public.  And  the  matter  didn't  end  there,  for  the  newspapers 
got  hold  of  the  affair  and  vigorously  denounced  me,  and  that  was 
the  first  stain  ever  cast  upon  my  character  as  a  moral  showman. 

I  subsequently  discharged  him.  He  wandered  to  the  West 
and  became  a  missionary  or  something  or  other  among  the 
Indians.  It  took  me  some  time  to  recover  from  the  ill-effects 
of  the  inebriate  bear  episode,  which  was  one  of  the  best-paying 
attractions  I  ever  had  on  the  road.  It  was  a  pity  that  to  me  was 
attached  the  blame  of  foxy  Bill  Turner's  imposture.  But  I  got 
a  lot  of  free  advertising  from  it,  whether  profitable  or  un 
profitable. 

You  may  not  know  it,  but  there  are  hoodoos  in  the  circus  busi 
ness  as  well  as  in  other  lines  of  trade.  The  only  difficulty  is  to 
be  able  to  know  what  the  hoodoo  is  and  get  rid  of  it.  I  remem 
ber  once  old  John  Robinson's  circus  constantly  lost  money  on  the 
Central  States  circuit,  where  two  seasons  before  it  had  made  an 
unusually  successful  tour.  Old  man  John  couldn't  understand 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    EICE  259 

it,  but  finally  concluded  that  it  could  not  be  among  the  mem 
bers  of  his  staff,  neither  was  it  one  of  the  performers,  for  every 
one  on  that  side  of  the  circus  had  been  with  him  the  season 
before,  which  was  one  of  unequalled  prosperity.  In  perplexity 
he  began  to  reorganize  the  other  parts  of  his  concern,  and  new- 
hands  were  discharged  by  the  wholesale.  At  last  he  discovered 
the  hoodoo.  It  was  a  side-show  lecturer,  who  always  wore  an 
alarmingly  red  necktie.  As  soon  as  the  lecturer  was  discharged 
the  circus  prospered. 

Phineas  T.  Barnum  one  season  had  a  hoodoo  that  stayed  with 
him  until  his  employer  was  well-nigh  ruined  before  he  was  dis 
covered  and  discharged.  In  that  instance  the  Jonah  was  a  very 
clever  plate-spinner.  The  trouble  with  the  hoodoo  is  that  he 
does  not  imagine  the  ill-effects  of  his  mere  presence  in  the  circus. 
Adam  Forepaugh's  worst  hoodoo  was  a  cross-eyed  candy  butcher, 
and  his  great  circus  had  very  bad  luck  until  the  vender  of  sweet 
meats  was  discharged.  John  O'Brien's  hoodoo  was  a  sweet-faced, 
soft-spoken  lady  performer,  who  brought  him  mighty  bad  luck 
until  he  released  her.  Old  Van  Amburg  made  barrels  of  money 
and  prospered  travelling  through  the  country  with  Scriptural 
mottoes  painted  upon  his  wagons,  but  all  that  changed  as  soon  as 
he  employed  a  peg-legged  colored  cook.  His  ticket-wagon  re 
ceipts  at  once  fell  off  amazingly,  there  was  bad  luck  in  the  ring, 
constant  desertions  from  his  company,  and  several  valuable  ani 
mals  died. 

I  am  perfectly  familiar  with  the  history  of  the  noted  death- 
dealing  elephant  Romeo,  who  killed  three  keepers  before  being 
brought  to  this  country,  where  he  succeeded  in  killing  four  more. 
Eomeo  was  never  anything  else  than  a  money-maker  and  a  devil 
on  four  legs.  In  his  day  he  was  the  greatest  drawing  card  a 
circus  or  travelling  menagerie  could  possibly  have.  Why,  the 
first  clergyman  I  ever  saw  visit  a  circus  went  solely  for  the  pur 
pose  of  seeing  the  notorious  man-slayer.  Nearly  every  circus  ' 
proprietor  in  the  country  was  eager  to  get  possession  of  that  ele 
phant  and  anxiously  endeavored  to  buy  him,  for  his  value  as  an 
advertisement  was  something  enormous.  I  opened  my  dicker  for 
him  at  $25,000,  but  others  raised  it  until  the  animal  was  finally 
sold  for  $47,500. 

Now,  a  red-headed  girl  or  lady  in  the  company  is  always  said 
to  bring  luck  to  the  circus.  Call  it  auburn  hair,  if  you  prefer, 
but  the  redder  her  hair,  especially  if  she  be  a  performer,  the  bet 
ter  the  luck  the  little  lurid  locks  will  bring.  I  have  had  them 
more  than  once  in  my  circus,  and  so  know  whereof  I  speak.  I 
recall  one  in  particular,  Mile.  Germaine  de  Greville,  otherwise 
Eliza  Butcher,  of  Ohio.  When  she  joined  my  company,  business 
at  once  began  to  boom  and  continued  to  boom  throughout  the 


260  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

several  seasons  she  was  in  my  employ.  I  presented  her  with  a 
magnificent,  well-trained  white  horse,  and  her  hair  was  so  dan 
gerously  red  that,  when  performing  upon  her  snowy  charger,  she 
looked  like  a  rocket  flashing  around  the  ring.  My  success  while 
she  was  with  my  circus  was  really  wonderful  and  mystified  the 
most  experienced  circus  proprietors  of  the  country.  I  knew  one 
of  the  secrets  of  that  success,  but  kept  silent. 

Eliza  knew  that  she  was  appreciated  by  her  employer,  and, 
upon  completing  her  turn  in  the  ring,  was  often  presented  with 
a  magnificent  bouquet  of  flowers.  But,  despite  my  thoughtful- 
ness,  I  at  last  lost  little  'Lize.  She  went  and  got  married,  and 
to  the  homeliest  man  that  ever  drew  breath.  When  her  boy  twins 
were  born  she  split  my  name  in  two  and  gave  each  one  half. 

KICE  ON  LAUGHTER. 

A  hearty  laugh  is  a  catholicon.  After  all,  what  a  capital, 
kindly,  honest,  jolly,  glorious  thing  a  good  laugh  is!  It's  an  anti- 
dyspeptic;  it  stirs  up  the  slumbering  fires  of  our  nature,  caused 
by  ennui,  excites  our  risibilities,  and  puts  us  in  better  humor 
with  ourselves  and  the  rest  of  mankind.  What  a  tonic!  What 
a  digestor!  What  a  febrifuge!  What  an  enemy  of  evil  spirits! 
Better  than  a  walk  before  breakfast,  or  a  nap  after  dinner.  How 
it  shuts  the  mouth  of  malice  and  opens  the  brow  of  kindness. 
Whether  it  discovers  the  gums  of  infancy  or  age,  or  grinders  of 
folly,  or  the  pearls  of  beauty.  Whether  it  racks  the  sides  and 
deforms  the  countenance  of  vulgarit}r,  or  dims  the  visage,  or 
moistens  the  eye  of  refinement — in  all  phases  and  in  all  faces, 
contorting,  relapsing,  overwhelming,  convulsing,  the  human 
form  into  the  happy,  shaking  quaking  of  idiocy,  and  turning  the 
human  countenance  into  something  appropriate  to  Billy  Buttons' 
transformation.  Under  every  circumstance,  and,  everywhere,  a 
laugh  is  a  glorious  thing.  Like  a  thing  of  beauty,  it  is  a  joy 
forever.  There  is  no  remorse  in  it.  It  leaves  no  sting,  except 
in  the  sides,  and  that  goes  off.  Even  a  single,  unparticipated 
laugh  is  a  great  thing  to  witness.  But  it  is  seldom,  single.  It  is 
more  infectious  than  scarlet  fever.  You  cannot  gravely  con 
template  a  laugh.  If  there  is  one  witness,  there  is,  forthwith, 
two  laughters,  and  so  on.  The  convulsion  is  propagated  like 
sound.  What  a  thing  it  is  when  becoming  epidemic: 

For  your  long-faced  grumblers 
With  me  are  no  go; 

They  give  you  cold  comfort, 
And  none  of  their  dough. 

For  my  part,  and  I  say  it  in  all  solemnity,  I  have  become  sin 
cerely  suspicious  of  the  piety  of  those  who  do  not  love  pleasure 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

in  any  form.  I  cannot  trust  the  man  who  never  laughs,  who  is 
always  sedate,  who  has  no  apparent  outlets  for  springs  of  sport- 
iveness  that  are  perennial  to  the  human  soul. 

ADVERTISING  AS  AN  ART. 

Since  Barnum's  death  many  good  stories  have  been  told  of  his 
methods  in  advertising  his  show,  but  Dan  Eice  has,  in  his  day, 
been  the  originator  of  many  clever  tricks  that  not  only  increased 
his  fame,  but  his  fortune  as  well. 

His  first  experience  in  the  circus  line  was  with  a  trained  pig, 
which  he  purchased  from  one  Osborn,  of  Cazenovia,  this  State, 
with  the  proceeds  of  the  sale  of  his  share  of  a  livery  stable  at 
Ferry  and  Front  Streets,  New  York,  which  he  partly  owned  at 
the  time.  The  animal  would  tell  a  person's  age  with  cards  and 
nod  its  head  in  a  manner  that  indicated  yes  or  no  when  questions 
were  put  to  it.  It  proved  a  profitable  investment  and  brought 
big  money  to  its  owner  wherever  exhibited.  At  Greensburg,  Pa., 
both  pig  and  owner  made  a  decided  hit.  Shortly  before  they  ap 
peared  in  that  place  fire  visited  the  barn  of  a  Dutch  farmer  named 
Jack.  The  farmer  suspected  an  employe  of  firing  the  barn.  He 
heard  of  the  wonderful  intelligence  of  the  pig  and  was  induced 
to  visit  it.  Eice  knew  of  Jack's  suspicion  as  well  as  his  coming. 
When,  after  the  pig  had  amazed  everybody  by  its  clever  per 
formance,  Jack  inquired  if  the  animal  could  tell  who  burned  his 
barn.  Eice  answered  in  confident  tones  and  with  apparent  seri 
ousness  that  it  could,  and  he  started  to  describe  the  supposed 
incendiary  to  the  pig,  asking  frequently  in  the  meantime  if  the 
person  described  was  the  incendiary.  The  pig  always  gave  an 
affirmative  nod  to  this  particular  question.  The  farmer  was  at 
a  loss  to  understand  it  all  and  openly  declared  the  educated 
porker  to  be  possessed  of  an  evil  spirit  when  it  led  him,  through 
the  affirmative  bobbing  of  its  head,  to  believe  that  the  suspect's 
age  and  habits  were  also  known  to  it. 

Jack  swore  vengeance  and  lost  no  time  in  procuring  a  warrant 
for  the  arrest  of  his  former  workman.  The  judge  had,  in  the 
meantime,  been  posted  and  he  summoned  Eice  and  his  pig  as 
witnesses  to  testify  against  the  prisoner.  The  court  room  was 
packed  with  a  curious  crowd  of  country  people,  who  looked  on 
with  awe.  The  court  attaches  knew  of  the  joke  that  was  being 
perpetrated,  the  victim  of  which  was  sentenced  to  thirty  days' 
imprisonment  on  the  alleged  testimony  of  the  pig.  This  proved 
a  clever  and  inexpensive  advertising  dodge,  as  the  newspapers 
took  the  matter  up,  and  both  pig  and  owner  attained  a  national 
prominence  that  resulted  in  bringing  thousands  of  persons  to 
see  both. 


262  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

Once  the  old  showman  got  into  a  tight  corner  all  on  account 
of  an  elephant  which  he  had  been  teaching  to  stand  on  its  head 
and  the  failure  of  his  under-trainer  to  obey  his  instructions.  The 
elephant  was  a  young  one  and  the  first  to  perform  this  trick. 
One  day  Rice  was  called  away  suddenly  on  business  while  the 
show  was  at  Elliottsville,  N.  Y.  The  whole  country  round  had 
been  literally  covered  with  posters  illustrating  the  elephant 
standing  on  its  head.  Upon  his  arrival  he  was  horrified  to  find 
that  the  elephant  had  not  been  receiving  its  lessons  regularly. 
His  instructions  had  not  been  carried  out  and  the  elephant  had 
forgotten  all  about  the  trick.  When  the  time  for  the  perform 
ance  arrived  no  explanation  would  satisfy  the  audience  and  Rice 
was  arrested.  He  tried  to  make  the  court  believe  that  a  mistake 
had  been  made  by  his  men  in  posting  the  bills  upside  down,  but 
that  story  would  not  be  accepted.  He  then  took  another  tack, 
and  after  giving  his  assurance  that  the  natural  modesty  of  the 
beast,  which  was  a  female,  was  the  only  thing  that  led  it  to  de 
cline  to  perform  the  trick  except  under  cover  of  darkness,  he 
was  discharged. 

A  CURIOUS  COINCIDENCE. 

The  city  of  New  Orleans  has  always  been  held  in  high  regard 
by  Colonel  Rice,  for  many  of  his  most  interesting  professional 
seasons  have  been  spent  among  its  people,  who  ever  extended  a 
liberal  patronage.  A  strange  coincidence  connected  with  his  ca 
reer  found  its  creation  in  the  Crescent  City,  and  its  romantic 
ending  took  place  in  the  Lone  Star  State.  In  bestowing  his 
munificence  the  Colonel  was  always  liberal,  and  on  the  occasion 
in  question,  in  1852,  he  presented  one  of  the  fire  companies  with 
a  new  engine.  In  their  appreciation  for  this  recognition,  the 
firemen  formed  a  committee,  and  gave  the  Colonel  an  elegant 
watch,  which  he  cherished  on  account  of  the  source  from  which 
it  emanated.  He  had  possessed  it  but  a  short  time  when,  in  some 
mysterious  way,  it  disappeared  and  no  trace  of  it  could  be  found. 
A  private  detective  failed  in  his  efforts  to  locate  it,  and  after  a 
time,  as  no  advertising  brought  it  to  light,  the  watch  was  given 
up  as  lost.  While  on  his  lecture  tour  in  1886,  Colonel  Rice 
drifted  into  Texas,  and  gave  one  of  his  inimitable  lectures  at 
the  town  of  Ennis.  During  his  visit  of  several  days  in  that  place, 
he  met  many  old-time  friends,  and  was  informed  by  one  of  them 
that  his  watch  had  been  seen  at  a  jeweller's  establishment  in  the 
city.  With  his  curiosity  aroused  as  to  the  now  ancient  timepiece, 
he  proved  its  identity,  but  had  much  difficulty  in  obtaining  it,  as 
legal  proceedings  had  to  be  enforced  to  secure  the  keepsake.  Its 
value  to  the  Colonel  was  merely  based  upon  the  associations  con- 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  263 

nected  with  it  and  the  long  years  that  had  elapsed  since  it  was 
stolen.  With  his  old  treasure  recovered,  he  returned  to  the  city 
of  Marlin,  where  he  had  previously  lectured,  and,  in  relating  the 
circumstance  to  friends,  was  astonished  to  discover  that  the  old 
engine  which  he  had  presented  to  New  Orleans  so  long  ago,  was 
then  in  possession  of  the  Marlin  Engine  Co.  No.  1.  The  engine 
being  the  same  for  which  he  had  received  the  donation  of  the 
token  he  had  so  recently  recovered.  By  just  such  curious  coin 
cidences,  Colonel  Rice  has  been  able  to  trace  everything  of  value 
that  has  been  surreptitiously  taken  from  him,  but  his  proverbial 
charity  prevents  him  from  exposing  the  shortcomings  of  frail 
humanity. 

A  TALE  OF  Two  CITIES. 

To  those  who  are  well-acquainted  with  the  personal  traits  of 
Colonel  Rice,  it  is  an  established  fact  that  he  had  a  great  fondness 
for  children,  and  he  has  been  known  to  make  sacrifices  in  their 
behalf  that  have  surprised  even  his  most  intimate  friends.  In 
days  gone  by  many  little  men  and  women  have  received  gifts 
from  him  of  ponies,  tiny  gold  rings,  and  other  trinkets  that  chil 
dren  prize  so  highly,  and  his  great  heart  was  satisfied  if  he  could 
but  make  them  happy.  This  mania  for  the  little  folks  often 
placed  him  in  ludicrous  positions,  from  which  he  was  often  com 
pelled  to  take  refuge  in  flight,  as  the  following  instance,  given  in 
his  own  words,  will  show.  Colonel  Rice  was  giving  an  enter 
tainment  in  one  of  the  opera  houses  in  Waco,  Tex.,  and  in  the 
course  of  his  remarks,  something  occurred  to  remind  him  of  an 
experience  in  Galveston,  and  he  applied  it  in  the  following  man 
ner:  "  In  speaking  of  children,"  said  the  Colonel,  "  when  I  was 
in  Galveston  a  few  weeks  ago,  I  displayed  my  proverbial  weakness 
for  children,  by  presenting  a  pair  of  new-born  twins  each  with  a 
ten-dollar-bill.  The  fact  became  known,  and  it  wasn't  a  week 
before  several  baby  carriages  containing  twins  had  been  wheeled 
in  my  presence.  My  money  soon  gave  out,  and  as  there  seemed 
to  be  no  end  to  the  Galveston  twins,  I  made  a  bee  line  for 
Houston  where  they  don't  have  twins." 

AN  EXPERIENCE  WITH  TRAIN  ROBBERS. 

It  was  while  on  a  business  trip  to  Omaha  that  Colonel  Rice 
had  his  experience  with  the  James  gang  in  their  first  train 
robbery.  The  incident  occurred  July  20,  1873,  on  the  Chicago, 
Rock  Island  and  Pacific  train,  which  was  eastward  bound,  and 
fifteen  miles  from  Council  Bluffs,  la.  Colonel  Rice  occupied  the 
first  seat  in  the  front  end  of  a  car,  when,  without  any  previous 
warning,  four  masked  men  entered,  two  of  whom  took  their 


264:  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

stations  of  guard  at  each  entrance.  Simultaneously  with  their 
appearance  they  covered  the  terrified  passengers  with  their  fire 
arms  and  called  out  "  Hands  up."  In  an  instant  every  person 
had  complied  with  the  command,  and  turning  his  head  to  look 
at  his  fellow-passengers,  Colonel  Eice  exclaimed  in  a  loud  voice, 
"  The  first  time  Dan  Eice,  the  circus  clown,  ever  held  up  his 
hands  except  when  over  a  game  of  poker."  As  the  desperadoes 
proceeded  through  the  car,  they  rifled  the  passengers  of  their 
money  and  other  valuables  which  they  deposited  in  bags  which 
they  carried.  When  they  reached  the  Colonel's  end  of  the  car, 
they  left  him  unmolested,  and  as  they  were  in  the  act  of  leaving, 
one  of  the  men  addressed  him  with  u  How  are  you,  Uncle  Dan; 
I'm  one  of  the  boys  you  used  to  pass  into  your  circus."  The 
identity  of  the  speaker  remained  a  mystery  until  a  few  years  ago 
when  Colonel  Eice,  while  on  a  lecture  tour,  met  Frank  James  at 
Huntsville,  Ala.,  to  which  place  he  had  been  remanded  for  trial, 
accompanied  by  a  large  number  of  friends  and  relatives.  On 
being  introduced  to  James,  Colonel  Eice  was  favorably  impressed 
with  his  agreeable  address  and  manner  and  the  conversation 
turned  upon  different  topics  that  were  very  interesting.  James 
remarked  that  he  had  known  the  Colonel  from  childhood  and 
that  he  was  one  of  the  boys  that  used  to  secure  admittance  to  the 
circus  without  paying  for  it,  a  privilege  that  always  pleased  the 
barefooted  youngsters.  In  touching  upon  the  experience  of  the 
train  robbery,  he  admitted  to  Colonel  Eice  that  his  brother  had 
related  the  incident  to  him,  and  also  that  it  was  Jesse  who  made 
the  remark,  "  How  are  you,  Uncle  Dan?  "  etc.  It  is  more  than 
probable  that  Colonel  Eice  escaped  much  annoyance  through  the 
remembrance  of  a  kindness  shown  to  Jesse  James  in  his  early 
boyhood.  And  the  jester  has  said  that  it  always  pays  to  remem 
ber  the  barefoot  boys  and  one  never  loses  anything  by  being  kind 
to  them,  which  he  has  had  demonstrated  in  other  instances  than 
the  one  above  mentioned. 

ON  THE  SUBJECT  OF  GRAIN  ELEVATORS. 

The  following  is  too  good  to  be  lost.  Something  like  it  ap 
peared  in  the  "  Knickerbocker  "  last  fall,  but  the  true  state  of 
affairs  having  never  been  made  public,  we,  from  the  most  dis 
interested  motives,  give  them  the  benefit  of  our  researches. 

E.  P.  Jones,  the  best  show  editor  and  general  writer  I  ever 
met,  had  occasion  to  visit  Cleveland,  0.,  in  September,  18 — ,  just 
before  the  State  Fair  commenced.  His  business  was  official,  and 
in  less  than  three  hours  all  the  compositors  in  town  were  un 
usually  busy,  and  the  demand  for  steam-presses  was  decidedly 
active.  Now  Jones,  who  'was  a  young  man  of  most  prepossessing 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  2G5 

exterior,,  and  in  suitable  times  and  at  proper  seasons  is  a  perfect 
D'Orsay  in  apparel,  did  on  this  occasion  give  evident  proof  that 
he  had  "  travelled  "  some,  and  hadn't  long  waits  to  attend  to  his 
wardrobe.  There  was  in  the  "  Forest  City  "  one  certain  Fair 
banks,  a  printer,  a  publisher  of  the  "  Herald,7'  a  first-rate  paper. 
By  the  way,  Fairbanks,  good-natured  soul,  finding  that  Jones 
was  worn  down  by  the  cares  of  his  position,  volunteered  to  "  ride 
him  out "  to  the  fair  grounds,  and  witness  the  preparations  for 
the  anticipated  fete.  Jones  went  it  "  in  the  rough,"  and  when 
he  got  upon  the  grounds  was  (through  a  mistake  of  Fairbanks, 
of  course)  identified  as  one  of  the  wealthy  yeomen  from  Hamil 
ton  County.  They  wanted  one  man,  a  practical  farmer,  to  serve 
as  one  of  the  committee  on  agricultural  implements>  so  poor 
Jones,  nolens  volens,  was  enlisted;  like  a  lamb  for  the  sacrifice, 
he  was  introduced  to  the  various  other  committees  in  attendance 
and  decorated  with  two  yards,  more  or  less,  of  colored  ribbons. 
Now  it  so  happened  that  u  Native  Wines  "  were  objects  of  inter 
est  in  the  Buckeye  State,  and  that,  in  all  the  fairs,  manufacturers 
of  the  aforesaid  article  competed  for  prizes — like  skilful  physi 
cians  they  never  swallow  their  own  drugs — per  consequence,  a 
little  whiskey  was  always  around  for  private  comfort  and  con 
solation. 

The  committee  on  "  Native  Wines  "  were  men  after  Jones' 
own  heart;  they  were  "  his  style,"  and  he  tasted  their  specimens 
and  compared  the  various  domestic  brands,  until  he  began  to  feel 
an  utter  indifference  in  regard  to  the  period  "  when  school 
broke,"  and  there  is  no  knowing  but  what  he  would  have  drank 
to  excess,  had  not  three  members  of  his  own  committee  suddenly 
demanded  his  opinion  as  umpire  in  regard  to  the  merits  of  several 
grain  elevators.  Out  Jones  bolted,  got  the  several  owners  to  the 
several  machines  to  demonstrate  their  plans  of  operation,  and 
after  he  became  satisfied  with  the  performance,  turned  around 
and  said,  "  Gentlemen  of  the  Committee,  I  am  a  man  of  few 
words,  understand  me,  of  few  words;  the  elevators  we  have  all 
seen  are  good,  gentlemen,  I  may  say  d — n  good,  but  when  it 
comes  to  be  reduced  to  fine  points,  curse  me,  gentlemen,  if  the 
1  greatest  grain  elevator  in  the  world  ain't  Old  Eye.' ':  The 
committee  so  reported,  much  to  the  horror  of  the  temperance 
folks,  and  the  amusement  of  Jones,  who  had  forgotten  the  cir 
cumstance  until  he  found  it  printed  in  the  annual  journal  of  pro 
ceedings,  a  copy  of  which  was  sent  him  in  due  time  by  virtue  of 
his  office. 

NOT  BAD. 

A  spark  from  a  rough  diamond  ofttimes  produces  brilliant 
effects.  While  in  Washington,  that  city  of  infernal  (Dickens  was 


266  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

wrong  when  he  styled  them  magnificent)  distances,  Colonel  Rice 
endured  a  walk  with  Captain  Sanford,  a  well-known  and  popu 
lar  manager  of  minstrel  fame.  In  the  course  of  their  ramble 
they  had  occasion  to  pass  an  imposing  looking  place  of  worship, 
against  one  of  the  pillars  of  which  leaned  an  individual  who  was 
too  genteel  in  appearance  to  be  mistaken  for  a  politician  or  even 
a  Congressman;  as  they  approached.,  a  smile  of  recognition  over 
spread  his  face,  and  coming  towards  the  Colonel,  exclaimed, 
"Good  morning,  sir!"  "How  are  you?"  responded  Colonel 
Eice  with  his  usual  bland  manner,  "  but — a — ah — excuse  me,  you 
have  the  advantage  of  me." 

"Well,  if  I  have,  I'm  the  first  one  ever  got  it,"  was  the 
rejoinder;  "  but  you  ought  to  know  me — I'm  Batters,  Cully 
Batters,  the  boys  used  to  call  me.  Don't  you  remember,  I  drove 
the  property  wagon  for  you." 

"  Oh,  yes,"  said  the  Colonel.  "  But,  Cully,  what  are  you  doing 
here?"  at  the  time  eyeing  the  edifice  with  a  peculiar  look  of 
estrangement. 

"  Me?  why  I'm  sexton  of  this  crib!  " 

"Sexton!"  exclaimed  Colonel  Eice,  astonished,  "why,  what 
on  earth  induced  you  to  leave  the  '  show  business '  and  turn 
sexton  ?  " 

"  Well,"  responded  Batters,  "  you  see,  to  quote  the  language  of 
the  preacher,  I  thought  it  better  to  be  a  doorkeeper  in  the  house 
of  the  Lord  than  dwell  in  the  tent  of  iniquity,  and  that  hippo 
drome  of  yours,  old  fellow,  was  the  most  consarned  tent  of  in 
iquity  I  ever  did  see — so  I  left." 

AN  INSTANCE  OF   UNPARALLELED  IGNORANCE. 

In  the  old  palmy  days  before  the  war,  Colonel  Eice  had  a 
staunch  friend  in  Col.  W.  C.  Preston,  who  owned  a  plantation 
at  Poverty  Eidge,  located  a  short  distance  from  Louisville,  Ky. 
This  gentleman's  love  of  adventure  led  him  to  become  the  ad 
vance  agent  of  Colonel  Eice's  Circus,  and  in  his  admiration  of 
the  popular  jester,  he  bestowed  the  name  of  Dan  Eice  upon  his 
youngest  child,  to  whom  he  was  greatly  attached.  The  regular 
nurse  who  cared  for  the  little  one  was  taken  seriously  ill,  and 
Mrs.  Preston  was  forced  to  call  in  an  ignorant  plantation  girl  to 
discharge  the  nurse's  duties.  In  previously  doing  errands  about 
the  place,  she  often  heard  her  mistress  indulge  in  words  of  en 
dearment  to  the  babe,  and  one  that  seemed  to  impress  the  fancy 
of  the  dusky  maiden  consisted  of  the  expression  "  you  are  a  dear 
little  angel."  Being  requested  one  day  to  take  the  little  one 
for  an  airing,  she  wandered  some  distance  from  the  house,  and 
having  seen  Colonel's  Eice's  elaborate  showbills,  on  which  were 


REMINISCENCES   OF   DAN    PJCE  267 

the  figures  of  spirits  adorned  with  wings,  representing  ethereal 
subjects,  the  thought  suddenly  occurred  to  her  that  the  baby, 
which  she  had  so  often  heard  spoken  of  as  an  angel,  could  also 
fly.  Therefore,  acting  on  the  impulse,  with  all  her  strength  she 
threw  the  baby  into  the  air,  exclaiming,  "  Dah,  yo  deah  little 
angel,  yo  now  fly/'  The  result  can  be  easily  imagined.  It  was 
followed  by  the  funeral  of  the  little  namesake  of  Colonel  Eice. 

Dr.  Love  is  said  to  be  the  only  real  live  American  resident  in 
Alexandria.  Love  is  bound  up  in  the  story  of  the  Rose  of 
Jericho,  however,  in  more  ways  than  one.  By  it  the  wonderful 
octogenarian  De  Lesseps  met  his  present  wife,  a  beautiful  young 
woman,  who  was  one  of  the  five  blooming  sisters  in  a  Parisian 
family  the  great  engineer  used  to  visit.  He  had  been  left,  at 
sixty-eight,  a  widower  with  a  whole  troop  of  sons  and  daughters. 
He  had  a  Jericho  rose  and  carried  it  in  his  vest  pocket  one  day 
when  he  went  to  call  on  the  five  beauties.  The  prettiest  of  them, 
who  asked  him  in  a  charmingly  ingenuous  manner  why  he  had 
never  married  again,  received  the  Resurrection  flower  as  a  gift. 

When  De  Lesseps  made  his  next  visit  the  young  girl  ran  out 
to  him  with  the  wonderful  rose.  It  was  in  full  bloom.  "  See," 
said  she,  "  what  a  miracle  the  water  has  effected.  It  is  like  the 
blossoming  of  love  in  old  age!  " 

The  old  man  did  not  need  more  than  one  suggestion,  innocent 
though  it  was.  He  proposed,  or  rather  finished  the  proposal, 
and  their  nuptials  were  soon  solemnized. 

Webster  defines  the  Rose  of  Jericho  as  "  a  plant  growing  on 
the  plain  of  Jericho — the  anastation  hierochuntina.  It  is  evi 
dently  not  the  resurrection  flower  which  has  become  familiarly 
known  of  late  by  this  romantic  name. 

CRAWLING  UNDER  THE  CANVAS. 

An  incident  that  occurred  years  ago,  when  Uncle  Dan  was 
showing  in  Kentucky,  in  which  a  prominent  banker  and  Ken 
tucky  distiller  figured,  is  related  with  a  great  deal  of  gusto,  by 
Colonel  Rice.  "  I  wasn't  performing  that  year,  but  simply  went 
into  the  ring  at  the  opening  in  citizen's  clothes  and  made  a  little 
speech.  In  the  hotel  in  the  morning  I  heard  a  couple  of  old  men, 
who  were  evidently  wealthy  and  solid  men,  discussing  the  circus. 
They  had  an  itching  to  go  and  see  the  performance,  but  one  of 
them  had  a  suspicion  that  I  was  not  with  the  show,  and  he  told 
the  other  man  so  in  such  a  loud  voice  that  I  sought  an  introduc 
tion  and  convinced  him  that  he  was  wrong.  Then  what  did  the 
two  old  fellows  do  but  ask  me  to  let  them  crawl  under  the  tent 
as  they  had  done  when  they  were  boys.  Well,  I  humored  them, 


268  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

because  I  saw  a  way  to  get  a  joke  on  them  and  make  the  perform 
ance  lively.  The  tent  was  packed  full  when  I  took  them  down 
to  a  place  near  the  dressing-room,  raised  up  the  canvas  a  trifle, 
and  tucked  them  under  in  a  hurry.  The  place  where  I  put  them 
in  was  the  space  at  the  end  of  the  reserved  seats  where  the  horses 
and  performers  came  into  the  ring.  Half  a  dozen  of  the  circus 
employees  saw  and  seized  upon  them  at  once,  and  there  was  a 
great  uproar,  the  entire  audience  standing  up  to  see  what  was 
going  on,  and  laughing  at  the  discomfiture  of  their  solid  fellow- 
citizens.  Meanwhile  I  came  in  and  tipped  the  boys  the  wink, 
and  the  old  fellows  went  off  and  sat  down  in  the  meekest  frame 
of  mind  imaginable.  When  I  came  to  make  my  speech  I  got  the 
whole  audience  in  a  roar  by  telling  how  I  had  played  the  joke 
on  them,  and  I  will  say  that  when  they  understood  it,  they 
laughed  as  heartily  as  any  one." 

The  late  Congressman  Dick,  recently,  in  a  reminiscent  mood, 
tells  this  story  of  an  experience  in  Washington:  "  My  father  was 
very  fond  of  the  circus,  and  was  in  Congress  when  Rice's  Greatest 
Show  on  Earth  gave  a  day's  performance  at  the  capital.  Father 
didn't  want  to  let  on  to  us  boys  that  he  would  go  to  the  circus, 
and  I  think  that  he  was  a  little  bit  afraid  to  let  his  fellow-mem 
bers  in  Congress  know  he  would  take  it  in,  for  he  slipped  away 
quietly  and  went  to  the  performance  all  alone.  He  took  a  seat 
where  he  thought  no  one  would  see  him,  but  when  Uncle  Dan 
came  in  as  the  clown  and  began  to  make  his  speech,  he  alluded 
to  his  Congressman,  the  distinguished  General  Dick,  pointing 
him  out  as  he  spoke,  while  as  many  as  200  Congressmen  and  Sen 
ators  who  were  present  craned  their  necks  to  spy  out  father. 
Father  used  to  tell  of  it  afterward,  and  laugh  till  the  tears  ran 
down  his  cheeks,  as  he  thought  how  the  tables  had  been  turned 
on  him  by  the  old  showman." 

A  SINGULAR  FOURTH  OF  JULY  MOVEMENT  IN  LOWELL, 
IN  1856. 

A  GUN  SPIKED. 

It  seems  almost  incredible  to  intelligent  belief  that  in  one  of 
the  most  popular  centres  of  our  great  country  the  following  inci 
dent  occurred  on  the  occasion  of  celebrating  our  patriotic  na 
tional  holiday,  but  such  was  indeed  the  case,  as  the  following 
statistics  show,  and  the  origin,  emanating  as  it  did  from  the 
municipal  authorities,  made  the  fact  more  conspicuous  than  ordi 
nary  circumstances  could  possibly  have  done. 

It  is  related  that  a  resolution  to  appropriate  $2,500  for  a  cele- 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  269 

bration  in  Lowell,  Mass.,  was  killed  by  the  Board  of  Aldermen, 
although  they  voted  to  have  the  customary  salute  fired.  The 
Common  Council,  considering  that  if  they  could  not  have  a  big 
celebration,  they  would  not  have  any,  killed  the  vote  of  the 
Aldermen  for  the  salute.  Consequently  Lowell  was  entirely  un 
provided  by  the  City  Fathers  with  any  kind  of  a  celebration. 
Mr.  Rice,  whose  "Great  Show"  was  to  be  exhibited  on  the 
Fourth,  heard  of  this  state  of  affairs,  and  telegraphed  to  the 
Commander  of  the  City  Guards  to  fire  the  salute  and  he  would 
foot  the  bill.  The  offer  of  Mr.  Rice,  who  was  somewhat  noted  for 
his  oratorical  pyrotechnics  was  generally  understood  at  Lowell. 
But  when  the  detachment  of  the  Guards  went  to  get  their  gun  in 
order  on  the  morning  in  question,  they  found  that  the  piece  had 
been  spiked.  The  vandals  who  did  the  malicious  mischief  went 
deliberately  to  work  to  consummate  this  plot,  for,  it  appears,  they 
cut  a  pane  of  glass  out  of  a  window  of  the  gun-house,  so  that 
the  hand  could  reach  in  and  remove  the  whole  sash  by  taking  off 
the  inside  fastenings.  After  this  work  was  done,  the  sash  was 
replaced  and  a  new  pane  of  glass  nicely  fitted  in  the  place  of  the 
one  broken.  The  idea  probably  was  that  in  taking  the  gun  be 
fore  daylight,  the  spiking  would  not  be  noticed  until  the  squad 
was  on  the  ground  for  action  when  it  would  then  be  too  late  to 
remedy  the  matter.  But  the  trick  did  not  work.  It  was  dis 
covered  and  the  piece  was  taken  to  the  machine  shop  where  a 
new  vent  was  speedily  drilled  so  that,  after  all,  the  morning 
salute  of  thirty-three  guns  was  fired  four  minutes  after  one. 
Commander  Busbee  of  the  City  Guards  showed  great  energy  in 
repairing  the  mischief  so  speedily. 

The  affair  created  a  great  deal  of  excitement  in  Lowell,  and 
Mr.  Rice  did  not  fail  to  enlarge  upon  it  in  his  speeches  in  the  ring 
arena,  bringing  down  the  house  at  every  allusion  he  made  to  it. 

Assuming  an  attitude  of  dignity,  the  clown  was  lost  sight  of, 
for  Mr.  Rice  was  all  eloquence,  and  the  following  are  as  near  his 
remarks  as  can  be  condensed  to  give  them  to  the  readers: 

"  Another  evolution  of  the  wheels  of  time  has  brought  around 
the  birthday  of  the  Nation's  Freedom,  a  day  sacred  to  every  lover 
of  his  country  and  her  glorious  institutions;  a  day  on  which 
the  heart  of  every  American  freeman  throbs  with  patriotic  emo 
tion.  Seventy-five  years  have  passed  away  since  a  few  patriots 
pledged  '  their  lives,  their  liberty,  and  their  sacred  honors '  to 
throw  off  the  shackles  of  British  tyranny,  and  yet  our  country  is 
but  in  its  infancy.  The  last  of  this  brave  band  has  passed  away, 
and  even  of  those  who  flourished  in  the  times  that  '  tried  men's 
souls '  but  a  small  remnant  remains  scattered  over  the  land. 
Could  those  who  were  prominent  actors  during  that  fearful  strug 
gle  revisit  the  earth  and  see  the  giant  oak  that  has  sprung  up 


270  KEMINISCENCES   OF   DAN   KICE 

from  the  little  acorn  that  they  planted,  great  indeed  would  be 
their  astonishment.  They  would  see  a  mighty  empire  stretching 
from  the  St.  John's  to  the  Kio  Grande,  from  the  Atlantic  to  the 
Pacific,  and  flourishing  cities  standing  where,  but  a  few  years  ago, 
the  wigwam  of  the  savage  stood;  the  echoes  of  the  shrill  whistle 
of  the  locomotive  and  steamboat  now  reverberates  where  the  bay 
ing  of  the  wolf  and  the  scream  of  the  panther  and  the  war  whoop 
of  the  savage  alone  were  heard. 

"  No  person  with  one  spark  of  patriotism  can  look  about  him 
and  see  the  rank  his  country  holds  in  the  eyes  of  the  world  at 
this  time  without  emotion  and  pride.  Let  us  then  fervently 
thank  him  who  made  and  preserved  us  as  a  nation,  let  us  renew 
our  oath  on  the  altar  of  God,  '  eternal  hostility  to  every  form  of 
t}rranny  over  the  mind  of  man/ 

"  Let  us  enjoy  the  day  in  a  national  manner  as  becomes  free 
men.  Let  us  remember  the  unanimity  of  those  who  fought,  bled, 
and  died  for  our  country,  and  though  the  horizon  is  sometimes 
clouded  by  the  clamor  of  persons  and  fanatics,  let  us  never  lose 
sight  of  our  motto:  '  Our  Country,  right  or  wrong,'  and  pray  for 
'  The  Union,  now  and  forever/  '; 

These  sentiments  of  patriotic  appeal  awoke  in  the  people  of 
Lowell  the  slumbering  fires  of  loyalty  and  their  demonstrations 
were  successive  rounds  of  noisy  cheers  that  more  than  repaid  the 
jester  for  the  conspicuous  part  he  played  in  the  city's  celebration. 
The  press  pronounced  his  overtures  a  brilliant  success  and  the 
affair  called  forth  a  universal  approbation. 


HENKY  CLAY  AND  DAN  KICE. 

Congress  adjourning  to  attend  a  circus!  Just  imagine  it.  Dan 
Eice,  one  of  the  celebrated  showmen  of  the  past  generation,  told 
the  story,  and,  of  course,  vouched  for  its  truth.  In  April,  1850, 
he  appeared  in  the  circus  ring  at  Washington  as  the  "  great  jester 
and  clown  "  to  startle  and  delight  the  assembled  statesmen. 

The  day  had  been  set  aside  for  Eice's  benefit,  and  something 
out  of  the  ordinary  must  be  done.  He  did  it  in  an  unexpected 
manner.  The  members  of  both  houses  of  Congress,  the  heads 
of  departments,  the  President  and  Cabinet,  and  scores  of  leading 
people  in  the  social  life  of  the  Capitol  received  elaborate  invita 
tions  printed  on  satin  for  the  benefit  performance  that  day. 
Nearly  everybody  accepted  the  invitation,  and  it  was  generally 
supposed  that  the  bits  of  satin  were  free  passes  to  the  show. 

Among  the  first  to  arrive  at  the  tent  was  Henry  Clay  with  a 
party  of  ladies.  His  colored  servant  was  in  advance,  and  the 
satin  invitations  were  presented  as  passes  of  admission. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  271 

"  How  many  in  the  party?  "  sternly  asked  the  doorkeeper,  who 
had  been  drilled  for  his  post. 

u  Twelve/7  answered  the  great  leader,  solemnly  but  confi 
dently. 

"  Twelve  dollars! "  exclaimed  the  doorkeeper;  "  buy  your 
tickets  at  the  box-office/'  Dan  Kice  was  behind  the  canvas  look 
ing  through  a  peephole  and  enjoying  the  evident  agitation  of 
Mr.  Clay,  when,  after  fumbling  in  his  pockets,  he  was  unable 
to  find  the  necessary  amount.  The  practical  joker  had  provided 
for  such  emergencies,,  and  had  nearby  a  well-known  Washington 
tradesman  of  that  period  with  pockets  stuffed  with  silver  dollars. 
Henry  Clay's  embarrassment  was  relieved  and  his  party  passed 
in.  He  remarked:  "  I'll  bet  this  is  one  of  Dan's  tricks."  It  was. 

Lewis  Cass,  who  came  later,  was  disposed  to  be  ugly,  but 
neither  he  nor  others  of  the  distinguished  statesmen  hesitated 
about  taking  the  tradesman's  money  when  necessary.  It  was  a 
great  day  for  Dan,  and  a  big  success.  President  Zaeh.  Taylor 
was  there;  so  were  Daniel  Webster,  John  C.  Calhoun,  Stephen  A. 
Douglas,  and  scores  of  others  who  were  part  of  the  history  of  that 
epoch  of  National  life.  That  Dan  was  a  high-roller  is  evinced 
by  the  fact  that  he  rattled  off  fifty  original  verses  of  "  local  hits," 
and  everybody  was  scored,  from  the  austere  President  down  to 
the  pages  in  Congress. 

How  PRESIDENT  LINCOLN  GOT  KID  OF  A  BORE. 

During  the  early  part  of  the  war,  while  professionally  visiting 
Washington,  Dan  Rice  called  upon  President  Lincoln,  whose 
acquaintance  he  had  made  long  before,  while  Mr.  Lincoln  was 
practising  in  Springfield,  111.  He  was  cordially  received  and  in 
vited  to  call  again  and  again,  for  Dan  was  a  good  story-teller, 
and  so  was  the  President,  and  herein  was  verified  the  old  adage 
of  "  birds  of  a  feather."  Upon  one  of  these  occasions  Dan  had 
an  illustration  of  Lincoln's  adroit  method  of  getting  rid  of  a 
bore. 

He  was  in  familiar  chat  with  the  President  in  the  White 
House,  when  the  card  of  Judge  Throckmorton,  of  Massachusetts, 
who  had  been  sent  by  the  philanthropic  people  of  that  State  to 
protest  against  the  placing  of  the  negro  troops  in  the  front  of 
battle,  and  he  forthwith  began  to  urge  upon  the  President  the 
necessity  of  interference  in  behalf  of  the  colored  brethren. 

Lincoln  listened  courteously  to  his  statement  and  then  wrote 
for  the  Judge  a  letter  of  introduction  to  Secretary  of  War 
Stanton,  under  whose  supervision  the  matter  came.  The  Judge, 
however,  persisted  in  the  discussion,  and  the  President,  who  was 
anxious  to  hear  the  conclusion  of  the  story  which  Dan  was  in  the 


272  REMINISCENCES    OF   DAN   RICE 

middle  of  when  interrupted,  turned  and  said,  "  Judge,  excuse  me, 
1  neglected  to  introduce  you  to  my  friend  here,  Col.  Dan  Rice, 
the  most  famous  circus  clown  in  the  world." 

The  Judge  was  too  dumfounded  to  extend  his  hand,  but 
bowed  himself  out,  and  remarked,  as  he  passed  the  doorkeeper, 
"  Great  heavens,  is  it  possible  that  the  President  of  the  United 
States  can  allow  himself  to  be  closeted  with  a  clown  ?  " 

PRESIDENT  JOHNSON  AND  THE  IMPEACHMENT  FACTION. 

There  is  an  inside  and  unwritten  history  to  every  important 
occurrence  of  a  national  character,  and  the  following  is  Dan 
Rice's  version  of  the  impeachment  of  President  Johnson.  Dur 
ing  the  days  of  reconstruction,  Dan  Eice  was  a  United  States 
detective,  having  been  appointed  by  the  President  to  protect  the 
interests  of  the  government  and  the  cotton  raisers  of  the  South 
against  the  dishonesty  of  government  agents. 

Rice  was  in  Washington  at  the  time  of  Johnson's  inauguration 
and  for  a  considerable  time  after,  but,  a  few  days  before  the  event, 
he  was  privy  to  a  conversation  between  Johnson  and  Col.  John 
W.  Forney,  of  Philadelphia. 

While  Rice  was  in  communion  with  Johnson,  Forney  sent  up 
his  card,  and  Rice  retired  to  an  adjoining  room  occupied  by  Colo 
nel  Moore,  the  President's  private  secretary,  where  he  distinctly 
overheard  the  conversation  between  the  President  and  Colonel 
Forney. 

Hitherto  the  latter  had  been  an  admirer  and  staunch  sup 
porter  of  Johnson,  having  been  intimately  associated  with  him 
during  the  events  attending  his  accession  to  the  Presidency.  At 
this  interview,  Forney  presented  a  list  of  post-office  and  custom 
house  appointments  for  Philadelphia,  for  the  President's  sanc 
tion.  The  latter  said,  "  John,  if  there  is  anything  I  can  do  for 
you  personally,  command  me,  but  as  President,  I  cannot  accept 
your  slate." 

Forney  left  the  White  House  in  undisguised  anger,  and  upon 
the  following  morning  his  papers,  the  "Washington  Chronicle  " 
and  the  "  Philadelphia  Press,"  familiarly  known  in  Washington 
as  "  my  two  papers,"  both  daily,  opened  upon  the  President  in  an 
article' headed,  "  What  is  the  matter  at  the  White  House?  The 
President  closeted  with  a  clown." 

Now  Rice  was  very  intimate  with  Forney,  and  meeting  him  on 
the  street,  he  asked  what  was  meant  by  the  article  in  the  papers. 
Forney  put  it  off  with  the  reply,  "  Oh,  it's  a  big  thing  for  you, 
Dan" 

"But,"  said  Dan,  "you  have  made  a  mistake,  the  President 
was  right."  At  this  Forney  burst  out,  and  complained  bitterly 


REMINISCENCES   OF   DAN   RICE  273 

of  his  treatment,  and  in  the  height  of  his  passion  he  swore  that 
he  would  ruin  Johnson,  as  he  had  previously  ruined  Buchanan, 
and  Eice  naturally  surmised  that  this  was  the  prelude  to  the  open 
rupture  between  the  President's  party  and  the  impeachment 
i'action. 

The  minds  of  the  people,  as  well  as  of  the  government  officers, 
were  filled  with  the  suspicions  of  the  times,  and  suggestions  of 
disloyalty,  from  any  quarter,  found  ready  credence.  Forney  did 
everything  in  his  power  to  ruin  Johnson,  even  going  so  far  as  to 
indirectly  accuse  him,  through  the  columns  of  his  papers,  with 
being  concerned  with  the  assassination  of  President  Lincoln. 

Too  MUCH  VIRTUE  FOR  THIRTEEN  DOLLARS. 

Few  men  have  been  upon  such  familiar  terms  with  notable 
characters,  or  individuals  of  national  reputation,  as  Dan  Kice, 
and  his  reminiscences  of  the  distinguished  persons,  who  are  fast 
passing  away,  were  equally  entertaining  and  instructive.  In  an 
early  day  he  was  introduced  to  General  Houston  by  Henry  Clay 
and  one  day  while  walking  with  the  former  on  Pennsylvania 
Avenue,  they  encountered  the  Hon.  Simon  Cameron,  with  whom 
Dan  was  also  well  acquainted.  There  was  in  company  another 
gentleman,  a  gallant  officer,  Captain  Britton,  of  Corpus  Christi, 
and  a  celebrated  Texas  Ranger.  He  was  a  capital  story-teller, 
a-n  immaculate  dancer,  and  a  perfect  Chesterfield,  or  Beau  Brum- 
mel  in  his  attire,  and  it  was  said  that  he  was  noted  for  his  atten 
tion  to  his  toilet  even  preceding  a  battle.  At  the  time  he  had 
a  company  in  the  Mexican  War,  under  General  Taylor.  Upon 
a  certain  occasion  the  General  issued  an  order  that  he  would  re 
view  the  troops  upon  a  specified  morning.  He  had  often  heard 
of  the  gallantry  of  Captain  Britton's  company,  and  of  one  Timo 
thy  Donahue,  evidently  an  Irishman  of  culture,  but  who  became 
demoralized  in  Xew  Orleans,  and  recruiting  officers  there  in 
duced  him  to  enlist  and  go  to  Texas,  where  he  joined  Captain 
Britton's  company. 

On  the  occasion  alluded  to,  the  roll  was  called,  and  all  answered 
but  Timothy.  Captain  Britton  suspected  the  cause,  as  Tim 
would  often  get  drunk  when  off  duty.  An  orderly  was  dispatched 
to  the  camp,  where  Tim  was  seen  advancing  and  staggering  with 
musket  on  shoulder,  and  as  he  fell  in,  the  Captain  addressed  him 
in  a  very  stern  tone.  "  Timothy,"  said  he,  "  you  are  drunk  on 
duty.  1  had  hoped  upon  this  occasion  to  have  had  General 
Taylor  make  some  recognition  of  your  gallant  deeds  by  shaking 
hands  with  you,  but  here  you  are  drunk  on  duty.  He  answered, 
"Hist  Captain,  not  another  word:  how  do  you  expect  all  the 
virtues  in  a  man  for  thirteen  dollars  a  month?  " 
18 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 


SHAKING  HANDS  WITH  MAJESTY. 

Dan  Eice  claimed  to  be  the  only  American  that  ever  shook 
hands  with  Queen  Victoria.  Years  ago  when  Franklyn  Pierce 
was  President,  and  Uncle  Dan  was  not  quite  old  enough  to  be  an 
uncle,  he  was  a  bearer  of  State  despatches  from  Washington  to 
England.  The  despatches  were  received  by  Her  Majesty  in  per 
son,  who,  upon  taking  them,  handed  the  package  to  the  secre 
tary.  She  then  bowed  very  graciously  as  if  to  intimate  that  the 
interview  was  at  an  end,  and  in  doing  so  slightly  extended  her 
hand.  Dan  instantly  put  forth  his  huge  paw,  seized  her  hand, 
and  said  in  his  hearty  style,  "  My  dear  Madame,  this  is  the 
American  fashion,"  and  he  gave  it  a  hearty  shake. 

Dan  says  that  the  story  of  young  Van  Buren  having  danced 
with  her,  he  believes  to  be  all  "  poppycock,"  but  that  it  is  true 
that  he  shook  her  hand  for  all  it  was  worth,  much  to  the  horror 
and  amazement  of  the  secretary. 

But  since  that  time,  other  Americans,  and  the  real,  simon- 
pure  article,  have  had  the  honor  of  giving  Queen  Victoria  a  hand 
shaking.  Upon  her  Majesty's  visit  to  Buffalo  BilPs  Wild  West 
Show  in  London,  after  the  performance  she  interviewed  the  In 
dian  chiefs,  when,  according  to  the  published  report,  "  Yellow- 
Striped  Face,"  the  half-breed  interpreter,  was  presented,  and 
then  came  two  squaws,  mothers  of  two  pappooses  in  the  camp. 
The  little  girl  pappoose  was  first  presented.  The  Queen  patted 
her  cheek  with  her  black-silk  gloved  hand,  and  then  the  little 
thing  stuck  out  her  brown  paw,  and  the  Queen  shook  it.  After 
this  the  Queen  stepped  back  but  the  mother  was  not  content. 
She  walked  up  and  stuck  out  her  hand,  and  the  Queen  shook 
hands  gravely  and  bowed.  Then  the  other  squaw  came  up  and 
said,  "  How,"  and  offered  her  hand,  and,  finally,  a  little  brown 
boy  pappoose  came  up  and  offered  his  hand.  The  Queen  shook 
hands  with  them  all,  these  being  the  only  members  of  the  Wild 
West  party  who  were  thus  honored.  Then  Messrs.  Cody  and 
Salisbury  were  presented.  Both  of  them  bowed  gravely,  and 
Colonel  Cody  smiled  pleasantly  at  the  compliment  paid  to  him 
by  the  Queen.  She  told  him  that  she  had  been  very  much  inter 
ested  and  that  his  skill  was  very  great.  A  moment  after  this  an 
equerry  signalled  for  the  carriage,  and  it  came  dashing  up.  The 
Queen  gave  directions  to  have  the  top  of  the  carriage  lowered. 
She  then  turned  to  the  Marquis  of  Lome  and  extended  to  him 
her  right  hand.  He  bent  very  low  and  kissed  it  and  then  fell 
back. 

DAN  BICE'S  GRATITUDE. 
An  interesting  incident  is  related  in  a  late  number  of  the 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  275 

"  Reading  Gazette."  It  appears  that  some  fourteen  years  ago 
Dan  left  Heading  with  an  exhibition  of  some  sort,  which  turned 
out  badly,  and  involved  the  proprietor  in  difficulty.  Judge 
Heidenreich,  of  Berks  County,  found  him  in  this  condition,  and 
lent  him  a  horse  and  wagon,  in  order  that  he  might  pursue  his 
business.  Dan  was  still  unsuccessful.  In  this  dilemma  he  was 
forced  to  sell  the  horse  and  wagon,  which  the  Judge  had  only 
loaned  him,  in  order  to  raise  means  to  take  his  wife  home  to 
Pittsburg.  Not  long  after  this  he  obtained  a  situation  in  one  of 
the  theatres  of  the  city,  where  the  Judge  saw  and  recognized  him, 
and  in  the  morning  called  at  his  lodgings.  Dan  was  still  poor, 
and  fully  expected  reproaches,  if  nothing  worse,  from  his  old 
patron,  but  instead  of  these  the  Judge  insisted  on  his  going  to 
the  tailor's  and  being  fitted  out  at  his  expense.  To  this,  how 
ever,  Dan  would  not  consent,  and  they  parted,  naver  to  meet 
again  until  one  day,  when  his  company  was  performing  at 
Reading  and  the  Judge  came  to  attend  court.  Dan's  first  duty 
was  to  hunt  up  his  old  friend  and  invite  him  to  take  a  short  ride 
about  town,  to  which  he  consented,  and  a  horse  and  vehicle  were 
soon  at  the  door. 

Dan's  equipage,  like  that  of  his  profession  generally,  seemed 
a  pretty  stylish  turnout.  It  consisted  of  a  bran  new  carriage  of 
elegant  make  and  a  spick  and  span  new  set  of  glistening  harness. 
The  drive  was  taken  and  enjoyed,  and  time  flew  swiftly  by,  as  the 
two  friends  talked  and  laughed  over  the  half-forgotten  events  of 
old  times.  Dan  drove  the  Judge  back  to  his  lodgings,  stepped 
out  upon  the  pavement,  and,  before  the  Judge  had  time  to  rise 
from  his  seat,  handed  him  the  reins  and  whip,  with  a  graceful 
bow,  and  said,  "  These  are  yours,  Judge,  the  old  horse  and  wagon 
restored,  with  interest;  take  them  with  Dan  Rice's  warmest  grati 
tude!  "  The  Judge  was  stricken  dumb  with  amazement  for  a  few 
moments,  but  soon  recovered  his  self-possession  and  began  to 
remonstrate.  But  Dan  was  inexorable;  he  closed  his  lips  firmly, 
shook  his  head,  waved  a  polite  adieu  to  his  old  friend  in  the 
carriage,  walked  off  to  his  hotel,  and  left  the  Judge  to  drive  the 
handsome  equipage,  now  really  his  own,  to  the  stable. 

How  TO  DETECT  A  KENTUCKIAN. 

When  introducing  his  famous  horse  Excelsior  at  Mblo's  Gar 
den,  New  York,  in  the  winter  of  1857,  a  controversy  arose  "  be 
hind  the  scenes,"  as  to  whether  there  was  a  Kentuckian  in  the 
audience.  "  I'll  settle  that  dispute,"  said  Dan,  and  going  for 
ward  he  proceeded  to  give  a  brief  history  of  the  horse  and  his 
pedigree.  "  He  was,"  he  commenced,  "  sired  by  Kentucky's 
favorite  horse,  '  Gray  Eagle ' "  (applause  from  one  person  only), 


276  REMINISCENCES   OF   DAN   KICE 

Dan  continued,  "  and  further,  ladies  and  gentlemen,  he  was 
foaled  in  Kentucky."  Thereupon  the  enthusiastic  gentleman 
who  had  before  applauded,  arose  and  shouted,  "  Dan  Rice,  so  was 
I."  Great  laughter  and  applause,  when  Dan,  with  finger  on 
his  nose,  remarked,  "  My  friend,  you're  not  the  only  jackass  that 
has  been  foaled  in  Kentucky."  There  was  uproarious  laughter, 
but  the  Kentuckian  failed  to  see  the  point. 

A  SHOWMAN'S  LAST  REQUEST. 

In  the  early  stage  of  the  "  one-horse  show,"  Dan  Rice's  only 
performers  were  Jean  Johnson  and  James  O'Connell,  known  as 
the  tattooed  man  who  professed  to  have  the  same  distinguishing 
embellishments  upon  his  cutaneous  coat  as  the  Fiji  Islanders,  al 
though  it  is  doubtful  if  his  acquaintance  with  that  geographical 
part  of  the  globe  had  any  closer  relation  than  in  his  imagination. 
His  principal  act  was  in  dancing  a  hornpipe  between  rows  of 
eggs,  which  was  really  an  agile  and  clever  feat.  While  travelling 
with  the  show,  he  was  taken  sick  and  unable  to  perform,  but  he 
was  kindly  looked  after  by  Dan  Rice  and  the  few  members  that 
comprised  the  company.  They  did  not  abandon  or  leave  him 
behind  but  carried  him  along,  although  his  malady  increased  and 
his  condition  became  hopeless.  Finding  the  closing  hour  ap 
proaching,  he  made  a  characteristic  request  which  was  finally 
carried  out.  When  committed  to  the  earth  the  band  played  a 
lively  tune  and  Jean  Johnson  danced  a  hornpipe  over  the  grave. 
Poor  O'Connell  thought,  and  perhaps  justly,  that  the  transition 
from  a  life  of  privation  and  suffering  was  more  appropriately 
celebrated  by  music  and  mirth  than  grief  and  lamentation.  As 
stated,  these  two  performers  with  Dan  Rice  as  clown  and  vocalist, 
together  with  the  band  and  the  perfomance  of  the  wonderful 
horse,  made  up  the  show,  and  a  more  popular  one  never  travelled 
the  length  and  breadth  of  the  American  continent.  In  the  slang 
language  of  the  profession,  other  circuses,  no  matter  how  exten 
sive  or  chock-full  of  performers,  had  to  "  get  up  and  get "  when 
Dan's  avant  courier  made  his  appearance. 

THE  FOUR-LEAF  CLOVER. 

In  the  summer  of  1842,  Dan  Rice  was  exhibiting  in  Pennsyl 
vania.  It  was  a  hall  exhibition  wherein  he  perfomed  feats  of 
strength,  legerdemain,  and  other  miscellaneous  acts,  to  the  grati 
fication  and  astonishment  of  the  primitive  Teutonic  denizens  of 
that  region.  Some  of  his  prestidigitating  illusions  in  particular 
were  amazing  to  the  rustic  population,  who  spread  the  report  that 
he  was  "ter  tuyfil "  himself.  Dan  and  his  assistant  travelled 


REMINISCENCES   OF   DAN   RICE  277 

with  a  horse  and  wagon  loaned  him  by  Mr.  Heidelright,  of  Cooks- 
town,  an  admirer  of  Dan's  and  who  subsequently  became  a  county 
judge.  In  due  course  they  arrived  at  the  village  of  Womeldorf 
and  put  up  at  the  tavern  in  the  place  kept  by  an  old  Pennsylvania 
German,  who,  like  the  majority  of  the  inhabitants,  was  a  firm 
believer  in  the  power  and  efficacy  of  the  four-leaf  clover  in  pro 
tecting  its  possessor  from  evil  influence  and  impositions.  Dan 
issued  his  advertisement  for  an  exhibition  which  was  to  be  given 
in  the  dining-hall  of  the  tavern,  and,  being  apprised  that  the 
landlord  had  provided  himself  with  a  four-leaf  clover,  he  resolved 
to  humor  his  conceit.  Accordingly  upon  the  night  of  the  exhibi 
tion  he  borrowed  a  quarter  of  a  dollar  from  the  old  gentleman 
which  he  placed  in  a  box  and  announced  his  intention  to  transfer 
it  to  another  box,  which  the  landlord  held  in  his  hand,  and  who  all 
the  time  had  one  of  the  fingers  of  the  other  hand  upon  the  four- 
leaf  clover.  Dan,  in  his  conjuration,  uttered  a  few  words  of  gib 
berish  but  the  charm  wouldn't  work,  and,  to  his  apparent  chagrin 
and  mortification,  he  gave  it  up  when  the  elated  landlord,  draw 
ing  forth  the  four-leaf  clover,  held  it  exultingly  aloft,  at  the  same 
time  exclaiming,  "  Ah,  ah,  you  show  fellers  can't  fool  me.  By 
himinel,  I  got  das  four-leaf  clover  and  so  I  beats  '  ter  tuyfil.' ' 
The  audience  applauded  to  the  echo,  nor  was  there  one  who  was 
not  satisfied  of  the  superior  power  of  the  quadruple-leaf  clover 
over  the  magic  of  "  ter  tuyfil." 

In  the  meantime  Dan  had  instructed  his  attendant  to  harness 
their  horse,  load  up  the  traps  and  wait  a  short  distance  upon  the 
road  where  he  was  presently  joined  by  Dan,  who  had  uncere 
moniously  decamped  without  settling  the  bill,  leaving  behind 
him  the  following  brief  note.  "  How  about  that  four-leaf 
clover;  have  you  got  it  yet?  You  can't  be  fooled,  eh;  but  you 
see  you  can't  beat  '  ter  tuyfil.' '' 

It  was  seven  years  after  this  occurrence,  in  1849,  that  Dan  was 
in  the  zenith  of  his  fame,  with  a  splendidly  equipped  circus  and 
travelling  luxuriantly  in  a  carriage  formerly  belonging  to  Louis 
Philippe,  the  deposed  King  of  the  French.  The  route  lay 
through  Pennsylvania  and  Dan  instructed  his  agent  to  make  a 
stand  at  Womeldorf,  much  to  the  latter's  surprise,  as  the  "Show" 
was  not  wont  to  exhibit  at  so  small  a  place.  But  Dan,  remem 
bering  the  scurvy  joke  he  had  played  upon  the  landlord,  had  a 
mind  to  see  how  he  would  regard  the  reappearance  of  "ter 
tuyfil." 

The  old  German  was  well  aware  that  his  old  customer  was  the 
proprietor  of  the  big  show,  and  as  the  cortege  filed  past  the 
tavern,  he  sat  in  an  easy  chair  upon  the  porch  looking  anxiously 
for  the  fellow  who  had  served  him  the  trick.  During  the  per 
formance  Dan  told  the  story  in  the  ring  amid  peals  of  merriment 


278  REMINISCENCES   OF   DAN   RICE 

at  the  expense  of  the  landlord  and  his  four-leaf  clover.  The  old 
fellow,  however,  sat  stolid  and  unmoved,  but  the  next  morning 
upon  settling  the  bill,  Dan's  old  account  was  found  annexed, 
which  Dan  laughingly  paid. 


ANXIOUS  TO  FILL  THE  BILL. 

While  Dan  Rice's  Circus  was  in  Memphis  "  long  'fore  de  war," 
as  the  darkies  say,  Colonel  Bankhead,  editor  of  the  "  Memphis 
Whig/'  presented  his  bill  'for  advertising  at  the  ticket  wagon, 
which  was  promptly  paid  and  the  genial  editor  wished  the  show  a 
run  of  good  luck.  A  short  time  afterwards  Dan  Rice  received 
the  following  letter: 

DEAR  DAX:  In  the  money  paid  me  for  advertising  there  was 
a  counterfeit  two-dollar  bill  which  I  return.  Please  send  me 
another  at  your  earliest  convenience.  Yours  etc. 

In  the  course  of  a  month  Dan  answered  the  letter  with  an  en 
closure.  It  read:  "Dear  Colonel:  I  have  travelled  through  the 
State  of  Indiana  before  I  could  find  '  another '  such  a  bill  as  you 
desired  me  to  send.  I  hope  it  will  suit  you. 

Yours, 

DAN  RICE. 

The  editor  recognized  the  sell  and  enjoyed  the  joke  and  pub 
lished  the  correspondence. 


A  GIFT  THAT  WAS  DECLINED. 

Dan  Rice  has,  perhaps,  been  the  recipient  of  as  many  favors 
as  any  public  living  man,  but  at  Meadville,  in  the  vicinity  of  his 
then  home,  he  received  an  offer  which  he  was  fain  to  decline. 
After  a  long  and  arduous  season  of  travel  his  mental  condition 
was  such  that  he  was  constrained  to  retire  and  seek  quiet  and 
repose  at-home.  He  quickly  recuperated  and,  visiting  Meadville, 
he  was  congratulated  by  the  friends  he  met  there  upon  his 
recovery.  Among  them  was  an  elongated  specimen  of  a  Penn 
sylvania  undertaker,  named  Jonathan  Long,  a  most  appropriate 
patronymic  for  one  of  his  longitude.  Striding  up  to  Dan  and 
extending  his  hand,  "  Dan,"  said  he,  "  I  have  not  forgotten  that 
when  I  was  a  boy  you  made  me  a  present  of  a  pony,  and  I  feel 
grateful  to  you  to  this  day.  Now,  some  time  while  travelling  in 
some  outlandish  country,  like  Texas  or  Arkansas,  you  may  be 


JOEL    E.    WARNER 


REMINISCENCES   OF   DAN    RICE  279 

taken  sick  and  die  and  all  I  have  to  say,  old  fellow,  is  this,  that 
I  want  you  to  send  me  word  and  I  will  send  on  the  finest  burial 
casket  in  my  establishment  for  you  to  remember  me  by." 

One  of  Dan's  peculiarities  was  to  give  ponies  to  boys,  whether 
he  was  acquainted  with  them  or  not,  and  no  souvenir  is  more 
acceptable  to  the  average  youth.  He  will  remember  the  donor 
to  the  end  of  time. 


A  LAW-ABIDING  CITIZEN. 

At  the  time  that  the  Fifteenth  Amendment  was  passed  Dan 
B  ice's  show  was  up  the  Eed  Eiver  and  advertised  to  exhibit  at 
Cotile,  some  distance  above  Alexandria.  The  news  of  the  pas 
sage  of  the  amendment  spread  far  and  wide  and  created  much 
excitement  especially  among  the  newly  liberated  colored  popula 
tion,  but  few  of  whom,  however,  could  explain  wrhat  it  actually 
meant.  There  was  one  who  was  particularly  anxious.  His 
name  was  Ben  Colfax  and  he  was  looked  up  to  by  the  colored 
community  of  that  section  as  an  oracle.  Accordingly  he  hied 
himself  to  an  Israelite  who  kept  a  plantation  supply  store,  to 
explain  what  the  Fifteenth  Amendment  meant.  The  Jew,  who 
was  a  jocular  sort  of  fellow,  told  him  it  meant  that  every  colored 
man  in  the  country  must  provide  himself  with  fifteen  wives. 

At  this  explanation  Ben  snapped  his  fingers,  gave  a  bound, 
and  exclaimed,  "  I'm  d — d  if  I  ain't  a  law-abiding  citizen." 

Two  days  after  this  conference  with  the  Jew,  Ben  called  at 
the  ticket  wagon  where  Dan  himself  was  presiding  and^  handing 
in  a  dollar,  said,  "  Massa  Eice,  give  me  a  ticket  for  my  wife." 

He  got  the  ticket,  when  he  handed  in  another  dollar,  with  the 
request  of  another  ticket  for  his  wife.  The  second  ticket  was 
given  him.  "  And  now,"  said  he,  "  give  me  another  ticket  for 
my  wife." 

"  Why,  Ben,"  exclaimed  Dan,  "  how  many  wives  have  you?  " 

"  Massa  Eice,"  replied  the  uxorious  Ben,  "  I  was  a  law-abiding 
citizen  and  I  mean  to  lib  up  to  that  Fifteenth  Amendment.  I 
hab  only  known  about  it  two  days  and  I  got  already  five  wives, 
but  before  the  week's  out  I'll  hab  the  hull  fifteen  amendment, 
you  bet." 

Capt.  Thomas  P.  Leathers,  a  most  unique  and  interesting  char 
acter,  can  be  classed  as  one  of  the  early  friends  of  Mr.  Eice  in 
Xew  Orleans;  and  during  all  the  intervening  years  that  connect 
the  past  and  present,  no  circumstance  ever  occurred  to  mar  that 
friendship  or  create  a  doubt  as  to  the  genuine  hearty  principles 
of  Captain  Leathers.  He  was  a  Kentuckian  by  birth,  claiming 


280  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

Covington  as  his  native  place,  and  is  now  about  four-score.     He 
was  also  the  oldest  steamboat  man  in  the  country. 

Being  a  man  of  great  individuality  and  firmness  of  character, 
his  name  is  a  household  word  throughout  the  Mississippi  Valley. 
His  bearing  was  very  commanding,  for  he  stood  over  six  feet  and 
was  as  fine  a  specimen  of  physical  manhood  as  the  eye  of  man 
ever  looked  upon.  Mr.  Rice  said  that  his  whole  life  has  been 
devoted  to  good  deeds,  which  fact  commands  respect,  and  lie  was 
honored  and  beloved  by  all  wrho  knew  him.  His  successful  ca 
reer  as  a  steamboat  captain  was  the  result  of  pure  merit.  Lead 
ing  a  life  of  constant  activity,  he  was,  naturally,  a  great  friend  of 
Mr.  Rice's  "  One-Horse  Show/'  when  it  was  situated  on  St. 
Charles  Street,  in  New  Orleans,  during  the  winter  of  1851  and 
1852,  and  he  never  failed  to  give  it  his  patronage  whenever  lie 
was  in  the  city.  At  that  time  the  clouds  of  adversity  hung  heavy 
over  the  establishment  in  St.  Charles  Street,  for  Mr.  Rice  was 
battling  with  enemies  and  fate,  and  striving  to  regain  what  he 
had  lost  by  a  misplaced  confidence  in  men  who  were  previously 
his  partners  and  pretended  friends.  Captain  Leathers,  being 
aware  of  the  villainous  treatment  to  which  Mr.  Rice  had  been 
subjected,  and  which  was  still  trying  to  crush  him,  never  ceased 
to  condemn  those  men  who,  adding  insult  to  injury,  were  en 
deavoring  to  ruin  Mr.  Rice's  efforts  in  exhibiting  under  a  tent, 
while  they,  representing  a  strong  circus  company  with  plenty  of 
means  at  command,  were  playing  in  the  American  Theatre  on 
P —  Street.  Public  sentiment  was  strongly  in  favor  of  Mr.  Rice, 
as  he  was  a  general  favorite,  and  its  sympathies  were  with  him, 
therefore  it  would  not  tolerate  the  vituperation  of  his  enemies 
against  him.  That  fact,  coupled  with  his  peculiar  satires  on  the 
wrongs  he  had  previously  endured,  was  sufficient  cause  to  ruin 
their  prospects  of  success,  and  in  a  few  weeks  they  were  com 
pelled  to  leave  and  extend  their  efforts  in  the  upper  river  coun 
try.  So  incensed  were  the  people  of  New  Orleans  against  the 
proprietors,  Spaulding  and  Van  Orden,  of  the  circus  in  the  Amer 
ican  Theatre,  that,  before  they  left  the  city,  it  was  positively 
unsafe  for  them  to  appear  on  the  streets  after  dark.  Thus  prov 
ing  that  public  sentiment  shapes  its  own  circumstances  in  ad 
justing' its  interpretations  of  right  and  wrong.  Mr.  Rice's  suc 
cess  was  unprecedented  throughout  the  season,  and  though  his 
enemies  eluded  the  warfare  of  his  scathing  satire  by  escaping 
from  New  Orleans,  they  renewed  their  attacks  against  him  dur 
ing  the  season  of  1852  with  increased  attractions,  the  principle 
feature  of  which  was  W.  F.  Wallett,  "  The  Queen's  Jester," 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  281 

ElCE    IN    THE    RING. 
ARENIC  WIT. — GROTESQUE  HUMOR. 

It  is  said  that  "  variety  is  the  spice  of  life/'  and  the  miscellany 
which  we  have  compiled  would  not  be  complete  without  a  selec 
tion  of  the  jokes,  repartee,  and  quaint  sayings  of  Dan  Rice,  when 
playing  the  fool  in  the  sawdust  arena.  Unlike  the  stereotyped 
edition  of  modern  clowns  he  never  studied  his  jokes,  they  were 
rendered  off-hand  and  upon  local  and  immediate  events,  many  of 
which  would  actually  occur  within  the  pavilion  or  theatre  during 
the  performance.  To  "  shoot  folly  as  it  flies  "  was  his  peculiar 
forte,  and  he  never  repeated  a  joke.  The  ring  master,  whose 
province  it  was  to  reply,  was  frequently  nonplused  in  a  vain 
endeavor  to  conjecture  what  was  aimed  at  or  when  or  where  the 
point  of  the  joke  would  come  in.  His  apt  and  ready  extempore 
wit,  as  much  of  a  novelty  then  as  now,  took  his  audiences  by 
storm,  and  he  at  once,  meteor-like,  shot  upward  to  the  very 
zenith  of  his  profession.  He  has  had  scores  of  imitators,  and  so 
had  Shakespeare  and  Dickens,  but  they  have  fallen  as  far  short 
of  the  original  Dan  Rice  as  the  modern  playwrights  are  beneath 
the  Bard  of  Avon,  or  as  the  strained  humor  of  the  imitators  of 
"  Boz  "  is  flat  and  insipid  in  comparison  with  their  illustrious 
model.  Of  course  the  following  dialogues  occurred  at  various 
times  and  in  various  places,  and  as  before  stated  they  were  ex 
tempore,  without  any  prearrangement  with  the  ring  master.  The 
scrap-books  of  Mr.  Rice  having  been  preserved,  we  are  able  to 
draw  from  the  vast  repository  countless  selections,  a  few  of  which 
are  given  by  way  of  illustration. 

DAN  RICE  AND  THE  RING  MASTER. 
COLLOQUY. — THE  POWER  OF  MILDNESS. 

The  rider  comes  into  the  arena  for  his  act  and  before  mount 
ing  the  horse,  throws  off  his  top  garment  and  hands  it  to  Mr. 
Rice,  and  when  the  rider  pauses  in  the  act,  the  clown  has  folded 
the  cloak  about  his  form.  The  ring  master  exclaims: 

Ring  Master — "  Why,  fool,  wrapping  yourself  in  the  cloak  of 
the  rider  on  a  mild  night  like  this  surprises  me." 

Clown — "  Shakespeare  says, '  When  the  clouds  begin  to  gather, 
then  wise  men  put  on  their  cloaks.'  Master,  just  before  I  en 
tered  the  arena  I  looked  without  and  found  the  clouds  were  thick 
and  ominous.  Though  this  is  the  first  time  I  ever  assumed  the 
abandoned  habit  of  my  neighbor." 

R.  M.—"  And  still  thou  art  a  fool " 


282  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAX    RICE 

Clown — "  And  yet  I  am  a  wise  fool,  for  Shakespeare  says,  '  I 
have  it  in  my  nose '  "  (pointing  to  his  nose). 

R.  M. — "  You  have,  goodness  knows/' 

Clown — "  You  spoke,  Master,  of  the  mildness  of  the  weather; 
do  you  know  there  is  a  great  power  in  mildness?  " 

R.  M. — "  Explain  yourself,  as  you  are  such  a  wise  fool." 

Clown — "  You  know  the  fable  in  which  ^.'Esop  related  the  con 
test  between  the  wind  and  the  sun,  demonstrating  as  to  which  of 
them  should  make  the  traveller  part  with  his  cloak.  Also  ailord- 
ing  an  illustration  of  the  means  most  likely  or  effective  in  induc 
ing  men  to  throw  aside  their  prejudices;  or,  as  the  Jews  or  any 
other  religious  sect  Avould  prefer  in  each  case  to  cling  to  the  faith 
of  their  forefathers.  As  to  the  story  of  the  traveller  and  his 
cloak,  it  is  told  thus  in  the  old  nursery  rhyme: 

"  '  The  wind  quite  a  hurricane  blew, 
But  could  not  provoke 
Him  to  part  with  his  cloak, 
Which  around  him  the  closer  he  drew.' 

"  The  mild,  melting  rays  of  the  sun,  however,  made  garment 
oppressive  and  inclined  him  to  throw  it  aside. 

MORAL. 

"  'Tis  thus  that  we  find 
The  great  mass  of  mankind; 

By  mildness  are  easily  won; 
Persecution  compare 
To  the  boisterous  air, 

Eeligion's  the  light  of  the  sun." 


DESCRIPTION  OF  A  COQUETTE. 
COLLOQUY. 

Clown — "  Master,  you  know  Shakespeare  says,  '  All  the  world's 
a  stage,  and  men  and  women  are  but  players,  and  in  their  lives 
play  ma.ny  parts! ' 

R.  M. — "  Very  true,  sir,  very  true." 

Clown — "  I  saw  the  other  day  a  character  they  call  a  coquette." 

P.  M. — "  Ah,  indeed!     Can  you  describe  it?  " 

Clown—"  Yes,  sir;  I'll  attempt  it." 

R,  M. — "  Well,  give  us  your  version  of  a  coquette,  Mr.  Merry- 
man." 

Clown — "  It's  a  female,  Mr.  Master,  who  is  fond  of  you  for  a 
moment;  faithless  for  a  year;  fickle  forever.  A  painted  doll,  a 


REMINISCENCES   OF   DAX   PJCE  283 

glittering  trifle,  a  feather,  a  toy,  a  bauble.  A  transient  pleasure 
or  eternal  pain.  An  embodiment  of  absurdities,  and  a  collection 
of  contradictions!  " 

P.  M. — "  Mr.  Merryman,  you  are  entirely  too  hard  on  the 
ladies." 

Clown — "  I  said  nothing  about  ladies,  Master,  I  said  a  female. 
But  for  fear  my  remark  might  be  misinterpreted  by  many,  in 
justice  to  myself,  I  wish  it  distinctly  understood  that  I  respect 
everything  in  the  shape  of  a  female,  or,  I  may  say,  woman, 
whether  she  is  of  lowly  or  exalted  birth,  rich  or  poor.  In  fact, 
my  admiration  and  love  for  woman  is  so  great,  I  never  neglect 
to  show  my  gallantry;  even  if  you  hung  a  bonnet  or  nightcap  on 
a  post,  I  would  pay  homage  to  it." 

R.  M.  (applauds) — "  Well  done,  well  done,  Mr.  Rice." 

Clown — "  In  truth,  as  Byron  says,  '  I  wish  all  women's  mouths 
were  melted  into  one  that  I  might  kiss  them  all  at  once,  and 


E.  M.— "And  what?" 

Clown — "  And  then,  let  7em  run." 

(The  rider  goes  out  and  the  Ring  Master  prepares  to  follow, 
but  the  clown  advances  ahead  of  him.  This  challenges  the  Ring 
Master  to  reprimand  him.  He  roughly  seizes  the  clown  and 
hurls  him  back  saying): 

E.  M. — "  Remember  sir,  I  never  follow  a  fool." 

Clown — "  All  right,  Master,  I'm  not  so  particular  about  it;  I 
will."  (Clown  stops  at  the  door,  turns  his  face  to  the  audience 
and  soliloquizes.) 

Clown — "  He  ruthlessly  hurled  me  from  him!  Why  did  he  use 
me  thus?  I  love  him  ever.  As  Shakespeare  says, 

"  Let  Hercules  himself  do  what  he  may, 
The  cat  will  mew,  and  dog  will  have  his  day.' 

And  that  is  the  beauty  of  this  great  country,  where  the  god  of 
equality  rides  on  every  gale.  To-day  I  shine  my  master's  shoes, 
to-morrow  my  beaver's  up,  he  may  have  to  shine  mine!  We  all 
cannot  be  masters;  and  all  masters  cannot  be  truly  followed,  but 
sooner  than  he  expects  my  master  may  find  he's  left  the  wisest 
man  behind,  for  I've  noticed  that, 

"  '  When  one  sweeps  a  room, 

The  dirt  always  goes  before  the  broom/  '• 


COLLOQUY. 

Mr.  Rice — "  I  have  read  the  Bible,  sir,  with  a  great  deal  of 
interest  and  marvelled  at  its  metaphors." 


284:  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAX    EICE 

E.  M. — "  What  circumstance  has  led  you  to  that  conclusion, 
Mr.  Eice?" 

Mr.  Rice — "  Well,  I  have  read  that  the  good  Lord  gave  to  Xoah 
the  vine  and  told  him  to  plant  it,  and  reap  its  fruit.  I  also  read 
in  the  Bible  that  '  wine  gives  joy  to  the  human  heart/  Further 
more  our  Saviour  turned  water  into  wine  and  drank  it,  and  even 
used  it  in  holy  communion.  I  find,  however,  that  the  water 
simpleton,  the  rich  man  in  torment  who  lifted  up  his  eyes  to 
Lazarus,  pleaded  for  a  drop  of  water.  Ah!  Master,  many  opinions 
conflict  on  the  wine  question." 

'R.  M.—"  That  is  very  true,  sir." 

Mr.  Rice — "  Byron  says, 

" i  Wine  invigorates  the  soul  of  man, 

Makes  glow  the  cheek  of  beauty; 
Makes  heroes  fight  and  poets  write, 
And  friendship  do  its  duty.'  r 

R.  M.— "Beautiful!     That  is  a  beautiful  thought,  sir." 

Mr.  Rice — "  Then  you  appreciate  it,  Mr.  Master?  " 

JK.  M .— "  I  do,  sir." 

Mr.  Rice  (insinuatingly) — "  I  know  why." 

R.  M.—"  Well,  sir,  explain  why." 

Mr.  Rice — "  Because  you  are  in  favor  of  wine." 

R.  M. — "  Well,  Mr.  Eice,  I  confess  I  do  enjoy  a  glass  of  fine 
wine  at  dinner." 

Mr.  Rice — "  Then,  sir,  you  love  woman." 

R.  M. — "  Does  that  necessarily  follow?  " 

Mr.  Rice — "  Most  assuredly!    I  have  an  authority  for  it." 

R.  M.— "Indeed?" 

Mr.  Rice — "  Yes.  It  is  said  that  a  man  who  loves  a  horse, 
loves  woman,  and  he  who  does  not  love  a  horse,  women,  or  wine, 
lives  a  fool  his  whole  lifetime." 

COLLOQUY. 

A  young  lady  comes  into  the  arena  to  perform  her  act,  and  the 
Eing  Master,  addressing  the  Clown,  says: 

R.  M.—"  Mr.  Eice,  assist  the  lady." 

Clown — "  Oh,  yes,  a  sweet  maid  of  tender  years."  (The  clown 
in  assisting  makes  a  painful  effort  and  assumes  an  attitude  as  of 
suffering.) 

R.  M.  (assuming  alarm) — "Why,  Mr.  Eice,  what  is  the 
matter?  Have  you  hurt  yourself  lifting  the  lady  on  her  horse?  " 

Clown — "  I  took  a  crick  in  my  side,  sir.  You  see,  Master,  I'm 
getting  old;  it  is  hard  to  raise  a  girl  now." 

R.  M. — "  Yes,  I  see  you  are  getting  very  old." 


KEMINISCEXCES   OF   DAN   EICE  285 

Clown — "  Yes,  Mr.  blaster,  but  I  am  strong  and  lusty,  for  in 
my  youth  I  did  not  apply  the  hot,  rebellious  liquors  to  my  blood." 

"R.  M. — "  Xo,  but  you  have  made  up  for  it  in  your  advanced 
years." 

Clown — "  You  bet!  I  have  had  a  heap  of  fun  with  John  Bar 
leycorn,  and  have  paid  the  penalty  of  my  folly." 

R.  M. — "  I  am  aware  of  the  fact,  sir.  Mr.  Rice,  it  is  an  old 
truism  that, '  An  honest  confession  is  good  for  the  soul.' ': 

Clown — "  I  am  glad  you  approve  of  my  confession  in  so  priestly 
a  style.  Xow,  being  absolved  from  the  error  of  ray  ways  and 
turned  over  a  new  leaf—  "  (hesitates). 

P.  M. — "  Well,  then,  Mr.  Rice,  take  good  care  it  doesn't  blow 
back  again." 

Clown — "  But,  Master,  I  am  perfectly  cognizant  of  the  fact 
that,  (  To  err  is  human;  to  forgive  divine,'  and  you  will  over 
look  and  forgive  my  youthful  indiscretions?  " 

R.  M.—"  I  do  so,  fully,  sir." 

R.  M. — "  Very  good,  Mr.  Rice.  Xow  see  what  the  young  lady 
stopped  for." 

Clown — "  I  know  what  she  stopped  for." 

R.  M.  (looking  earnestly  at  the  clown). — "  Well,  sir,  what  did 
she  stop  for?" 

Clown  (innocently) — "  Why,  you  did  not  know,  Master,  that 
I'm  a  psychologist?  " 

R.  M.—"  Xo,  sir." 

Clown — "  Yes,  sir,  I  am,  and  I  know  what  the  lady  stopped  for 
without  going  to  ask  her." 

R.  M.  (cracking  the  whip) — "  Then  tell  me  immediately,  sir." 

Clown — "  Hold  your  whip.  I  will  tell  you.  She  stopped  to 
start  again,  sir." 

R.  M.  (annoyed) — "  Why  you  ridiculous  fool." 

Clown  (strikes  an  attitude) — "  Xo,  not  ridiculous,  Master;  I'm 
a  happy  fool.  I'm  rara  avis  in  terra,  a  happy  man!  " 

(The  rider  at  this  point  starts  to  finish  her  act  of  horsemanship 
and  in  taking  her  graceful  pose,  a  sudden  increase  of  speed  caused 
her  to  fall  from  her  horse,  fortunately  landing  on  her  feet.  While 
assistants  were  readjusting  the  difficulty,  there  was,  necessarily, 
a  delay,  and  the  clown's  duty  on  such  occasions  is  to  draw  the 
attention  of  the  audience  from  the  incident,  and  at  the  same  time 
to  so  govern  his  remarks  as  to  appropriately  fill  the  gap  caused 
by  the  sudden  detention  with  well-timed  wit  and  humor.  Turn 
ing  to  the  rider,  he  remarks): 

Clown — "  Don't  be  discouraged,  young  lady,  you  know  Shakes 
peare  says, 

"  '  Woman  must  fall  once  in  her  life, 
Be  she  maid,  widow,  or  wife.' 


286  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

Then  turns  to  the  Ring  Master  and  exclaims,  '  So  fell  our  mother 
Eve,  and  Adam  heard  it.'  r' 

Looking  at  the  horse  being  made  ready,  he  inquires: 

Clown — "  What  made  the  young  lady  fall  from  her  horse,  Mr. 
Master?" 

R.  M. — "  The  horse  gave  a  sudden  start;  the  trappings  became 
disarranged  and  a  strap  broke,  striking  him  on  the  forearms/' 

Clown — "  And  that  caused  him  to  run  irregular?  " 

R.  M.—"  Certainly,  sir." 

Clown — "  Even  Shakespeare  knew  that,  for  he  says,  (  The 
slightest  alteration  in  the  pace  of  the  animal  mars  the  beauty 
of  the  most  gifted  equestrian/  But  it  never  interfers  with  my 
riding,  Mr.  Master." 

R.  M.—"  How  is  that,  sir?  " 

Clown — "Why,  I'm  like  the  immortal  Abraham  Lincoln,  in 
early  times  in  the  practice  of  his  legal  profession  he  always  trav 
elled  on  '  Shanks' s  Mare/  and  that  is  the  same  vehicle  I  ride  in, 
Mr,  Master.  But  the  lady  landed  on  her  feet.  She  must  be  a 
Jersey  girl,  Master,  and  gifted  with  a  broad  tire  for  travelling  in 
the  sand." 

R.  M.—"  Why  so,  sir?" 

Clown — "  Because  in  Jersey  they  have  to  travel  in  the  sand, 
especially  when  they  go  shell-fishing." 


COLLOQUY. 

As  a  lady  rider  appears  in  the  arena,  the  clown  remarks: 
Clown — "  The  lady  is  so  unique  and  so  artistic  in  her  terpsi- 
chorean  displays,  that  it  stamps  her  a  star." 

Jf?.  M. — "  You  are  very  complimentary  to  the  lady,  Mr.  Bice." 
Clown  (aside) — "  As  Shakespeare  says,  '  A  little  flattery  some 
times  does  well.' '; 

R.  M.—"  Ah!     But  you  cause  the  lady  to  blush." 
Clown — "  Why  didn't  you  blush,  Mr.  Master,  last  evening  in 
reference  to  yourself?  " 
jf2.  M.— "Why  so,  sir?" 

Clown — "When  I  quoted  Shakespeare,  and  applied  it,  as  I 
thought,  most  appropriately." 

R.  M. — "  Why,  I  don't  remember,  sir.     What  was  it?  " 
Clown — "  I  said  you  were  a  marvellously  gay  fellow,  with  a 
good  leg  and  foot,  and  a  whip  for  an  emblem." 

R.  M. — "And  I'll  show  you,  sir,  that  I  know  how  to  handle 
it."  (And  cracks  the  whip,  apparently  striking  the  clown  on  his 
lower  limbs,  which  causes  him  to  assume  an  attitude  of  pain,  and 
exclaim): 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAX    1UCE  287 

Cloii'n — "  Master,  you  have  made  a  mistake.  I  never  allow 
any  one  to  feed  crackers  to  my  calves!  " 

R.  M. — "  You  discover,  sir,  that  I  am  not  susceptible  to 
flattery/' 

Clown — "  Then,  sir,  you  stand  isolated  and  alone  in  the  world." 

#.  If ._«  How  so,  sir?" 

Clown — "  For  Dean  Swift  says  that, 

"  '  It  is  an  old  maxim  taught  in  schools, 
That  flattery  is  the  food  of  fools; 
And  now  and  then  the  wisest  wit, 
Will  condescend  to  take  a  bit.7  r 

B.  M.—"  Why,  sir,  I'm  not  a  fool." 

Clown — "  Well,  according  to  Shakespeare  and  Burns,  we  are 
all  fools  to  a  great  or  less  extent.  Shakespeare  says,  '  A  man  who 
commits  a  foolish  action  is  a  fool  for  doing  so.'  Now,  show  me, 
Master,  one  who  never  committed  a  foolish  action  and  I  will 
show  you  a  white  chicken  that  lays  a  black  egg." 

7?.  M.—"  Well,  what  does  Bobbie  Burns  say  about  it?  " 

Clown — "  He  says, 

"  '  My  son,  these  maxims  mak'  a  rule, 

An'  bind  them  weel  togither, 
Th'  rigid  righteous  is  a  fool, 
Th'  rigid  wise  anither.' ': 

R.  M. — "  Well,  sir,  that  will  do  now.  Go  and  see  what  the 
lady  requires." 

Clown  (aside)—"  Go  yourself." 

(Ring  Master  cracks  his  whip  as  if  in  anger,  exclaiming  very 
emphatically):  "  What  is  that  you  say,  sir?  " 

Clown — "I  won't  do  anything  else!  Why,  Master,  don't  get 
angry  at  the  clown's  folly.  On  reflection,  I  find  that  I  am  mis 
taken." 

R.  M.—"  Explain  yourself,  sir." 

Clown — "  Why,  in  my  opinion,  you'll  never  go  mad,  for  the 
immortal  Bard  of  Avon,  my  favorite  author,  says,  '  Fools  never 
run  mad.'  Now  I'll  seek  more  agreeable  company,  and  see  what 
the  star  requires.  Master,  if  this  lady  was  not  worthy  of  being 
classed  in  the  category  of  equestrian  constellations,  still  she  is  a 
star,  in  my  humble  judgment.  For  '  Woman  is  the  morning- 
star  of  infancy,  the  day-star  of  manhood,  the  evening-star  of  age. 
Bless  your  stars!  May  we  ever  bask  in  the  sunny  smiles  of  their 
starry  influence  until  they  blow  us  sky  high  and  make  us  see 
stars  out  of  our  own  eyes! '  The  clown  moves  towards  the 
Master  and  apparently  puts  his  finger  in  his  eye.  At  the  same 
time  asking,  "  Master,  did  they  ever  make  you  see  stars?  " 


288  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

R.  M.—"  No,  sir  "  (angrily). 

Clown — "  You've  not  been  married  long  enough  yet.  When 
you  have,  she'll  show  you." 

R.  M. — "  But  you  have  already  shown  me,  sir,  by  putting  your 
finger  in  my  eye."  (Covering  his  eye  as  if  it  hurt  him.)  "  Sup 
pose,  sir,  you  had  put  my  eye  out  ?  " 

Clown — "  I  always  suit  the  action  to  the  word;  the  word  to  the 
action."  (Ring  Master,  with  his  hand  still  on  his  eye,  angrily 
chases  the  clown  with  the  whip.) 

Clown  (falling  on  his  knee,  imploringly  raises  his  hands,  ex 
claiming) — "  Master,  I  beg  your  pardon;  I  did  not  mean  to  hurt 
you." 

R.  M. — "  Well,  sir,  rise.     I  forgive  you." 

Clown — "  You  do  forgive  me  ?  Then  give  me  your  hand  [both 
extend  hands].  That's  Christian-like,  Mr.  Master,  for  as  we  ex 
pect  forgiveness,  so  should  we  be  ready  to  forgive.  [Shakes  hands 
cordially].  Now,  Master,  as  you  have  been  so  liberal  as  to  for 
give  me,  I  have  one  request  to  make." 

R.  M.— "What  is  it,  sir?" 

Clown  (rising) — "  Give  me — 

jf?.  Jf._«Weil,  what  is  it?" 

Clown — "  A  chew  of  tobacco." 

R.  M. — "  I  never  chew,  sir.     I  never  use  the  weed." 

Clown — "Then  you  cannot  give  me  what  you  do  not  have.  You 
are  in  a  similar  fix  to  that  of  Bobbie  Burns  when  a  friend  wrote 
to  him  for  the  loan  of  a  sum  of  money.  Burns  replied: 

"  '  A  man  may  have  an  earnest  heart, 

Though  poverty  often  stares  him; 
A  friend  can  take  another's  part, 
But  have  no  cash  to  spare  him.' '; 

R.  M. — "  Now,  Mr.  Rice,  all  this  is  very  pleasant  and  agree 
able,  but  suppose  you  had  put  my  eye  out  when  you  pointed  your 
finger  in  my  face?  " 

Clown — "  Then  you  would  have  been  in  the  same  fix  that  Lord 
Nelson  was  in  when  he  called  to  the  lookout,  '  Do  you  see  Tra 
falgar? '  The  man  replied, '  Yes,  I  think  I  do.'  The  answer  not 
being  satisfactory  to  Nelson,  he  said,  '  I'll  go  aloft  and  go  one 
eye  on  it,'  having  lost  an  eye  in  a  previous  engagement." 

R.  M. — "  Do  you  think  the  great  admiral  saw  positively  what 
the  lookout  was  not  positive  of?  " 

Clown — "  Most  assuredly." 

R.  M. — "Explain  how  Nelson  could  see  accurately  with  one 
eye  what  the  lookout  could  not  with  two." 

Clown — "I  will  illustrate  to  you.  Suppose  you  had  lost  an 
eye,  you  could  see  me  with  two  eyes  while  I  could  see  you  with 


HEMINISCENCES   OF   DAX   BICE  280 

but  one.  Do  you  see  the  p'int,  Master?  Now,  again,  suppose  I 
had  put  both  your  eyes  out?  " 

R.  If. — "  Suppose  you  had  done  so,  Mr.  Kice,  it  would  have 
been  a  most  lamentable  misfortune." 

Clown — "  I  think  not,  from  a  moral  standpoint,  especially  in 
your  case." 

R,  J/.—"  How  so?" 

Clown — "  I  have  read  in  the  Good  Book,  i  What  the  eye  does 
not  see,  the  heart  does  not  grieve  after.'  >' 

COLLOQUY. 

Mr.  Rice — "  Do  you  know,  Mr.  Master,  there  are  six  signs  of 
a  fool?" 

E.  M.—"  Well,  what  are  they?  " 

Mr.  Rice — "  A  fool  may  be  known  (1)  In  anger  without  cause; 
(2)  In  speech  without  profit;  (3)  In  change  without  motive;  (4) 
In  inquiries  without  object;  (5)  In  putting  faith  in  a  stranger;  (6) 
In  not  knowing  one's  friends  from  one's  foes." 

R.  M. — "  I  take  issue  with  you,  Mr.  Rice,  on  the  sixth  point." 

Mr.  Rice — "  Explain,  Master." 

R.  M. — "  He  must  be  a  brainless  fool  not  to  know  his  friend 
from  his  foe;  for  all  animals  from  the  highest  to  the  lowest  grade 
know  a  friend  from  a  foe." 

Mr.  Rice — "  No,  no;  Master,  I  differ  with  you.  I  don't  think 
there  is  such  a  thing  as  a  brainless  fool,  for  no  person  can  live 
without  brains." 

R.  M. — "  Well,  I  agree  with  you,  Mr.  Eice;  no  one  can  live 
without  brains  a  great  while." 

Mr.  Rice — "  I  beg  to  differ  with  you  again,  Mr.  Master.  I 
know  they  can  live  without  brains." 

R.  M. — "  Well,  you  are  so  very  sharp,  tell  me  how  long  a  man 
can  live  without  brains." 

Mr.  Rice — "  Well,  I  can't  exactly  tell  how  long  they  can  live 
without  brains,  but  if  any  one  will  tell  me  how  old  you  are,  I'll 
tell  him  how  long  a  man  has  lived  without  them." 

R.  M. — "  Oh,  sir,  you  are  a  fool  indeed." 

Mr.  Rice — "  Shakespeare  says,  '  Call  me  not  a  fool  till  heaven 
has  sent  me  a  fortune.'  Master,  heaven  has  not  been  very  kind 
to  me.  It  sent  me  a  fortune  at  one  time,  and  then  sent  a  man  to 
fool  me  out  of  it." 

R.  M.—"  I've  heard  so." 

Mr.  Rice — "  I  was  young  then;  but,  let  them  fool  me  now!  " 

COLLOQUY. 

Mr.  Rice — "  Let  us  suppose  a  case.     If  I  should  hit  you  and 
knock  you  down  what  would  you  do?  " 
19 


290  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    EICE 

R.  M. — "  Discharge  you/' 

Mr.  Rice — "  I  don't  understand  you." 

R.  M. — "  I  mean  I  would  ship  you  off." 

Mr.  Rice — "  Then  I  congratulate  you,,  Master/' 

R.  M.— "Why  so,  sir?" 

Mr.  Rice — "  You  would  then  be  a  shipping  merchant,  you 
could  not  locate  nor  go  into  business  in  a  better  city  nor  among 
more  agreeable  people." 

R.  M. — "  Xo,  no;  you  don't  understand  me,  I  mean  that  I 
would  trade  you  off." 

Mr.  Rice — "  Then  you  would  be  dealing  in  produce." 

R.  If.— "How  so,  sir?" 

Mr.  Rice — "  Because  you  would  be  trading  in  Rice,  well,  who 
ever  you  might  sell  me  to,  they  would  find  me  a  tough  customer 
to  chew  on.  I  might  be  palatable  but  the  devil  himself  couldn't 
digest  me.  However,  whether  I  might  be  found  palatable  or  not, 

"  In  my  own  guise  I  appear 

Shining  dimly  or  bright, 
If  it's  shining  at  all 

'Tis  with  borrowed  light. 

And  in  speaking  of  the  devil  reminds  me  of  hell.     Do  you  know 

where  hell  is,  Master?  " 

R.  M.—"  No,  sir,  I  do  not;  do  you?  " 

Mr.  Rice — "  Yes,  it  is  here  [placing  his  hand  upon  his  heart] 

each  one  in  his  life  creates  his  own  hell,  and  the  devil  is  at  our 

elbow." 

Mr.  Rice — "  Some  very  religious  people  pronounce  cards  to  be 

the  devil's  book.     You  play,  I  suppose?" 
E.  M.—"  Yes,  sir,  a  little." 
Mr.  Rice — "  A  little  [aside] .     I  saw  him  playing  euchre  on  a 

cellar  door  yesterday." 

R.  M. — "What  are  you  muttering  about,  sir?" 

Mr.  Rice — "  I  said  I  never  heard  you  say  so  before.     Well, 

if  you  do  play,  you  ought  to  be  fond  of  High,  Low,  Jack,  and 

the  Game." 

E.  M.— "Why  so,  sir?" 

Mr.  Rice — "  Because  you  would  be  likely  to  win." 

R.  M. — "  Always  likely  to  win.     Pray  tell  me  how?  " 

Mr.  Rice — "  Because  you  would  be  always  low." 

R.  M. — "  You  are  impertinent,  Mr.  Merryman  [cutting  him 

with  the  whip] ;  take  that.     How  do  you  like  that  trick?  "     (Mr. 

Rice  rushes  and  knocks  him  down.) 

R.  M.  (rising) — "  Zounds,  sir,  what  do  you  mean  by  that?  " 
Mr.  Rice — "Oh,  I  just  thought  I  would  throw  up  my  hand 

and  give  you  one  to  finish  the  game." 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAX    RICE  291 

The  King  Master  commands  him  to  hand  a  hoop  to  the  rider 
and  Mr.  Rice  runs  after  him. 

R.  M. — "  Ah,  sir,  you  came  near  not  overtaking  him;  you  did 
not  run  fast  enough." 

Mr.  Eice — u  Oh,  yes,  I  ran  fast  enough,  but  I  didn't  start  soon 
enough." 

P.  M. — "  Nonsense,  sir — hush." 

Mr.  Eice — u  Do  you  know,  sir,  that  I  once  owned  a  horse?  " 

E.  M.—"  Did  you?     Well,  was  he  a  good  one?  " 

Mr.  Eice — "  Yes,  sir;  he  was  a  first-rate  one  if  it  hadn't  been 
for  a  couple  of  slight  failings." 

E.  M. — "  Pray,  sir,  what  were  they?  " 

Mr.  Eice — "  Well,  sir,  one  was  he  was  devilish  hard  to  catch." 

E.  M.—"  And  the  other,  sir?  " 

Mr.  Eice — "  Why  he  was  good  for  nothing  when  he  was 
caught." 

E.  M.  (cracking  his  whip) — "  You  never  open  your  mouth  un 
less  upon  something  soft." 

Mr.  Eice — u  True,  I  opened  upon  you  last." 

While  exhibiting  in  Chicago  during  the  war,  Mr.  Rice  re 
marked  one  evening,  that  some  of  the  people  there  were  so  loyal 
that  they  wouldn't  ride  in  the  South  side  cars,  and  while  per 
forming  in  Philadelphia  a  misunderstanding  occurred  between 
Mr.  Rice  and  Dr.  Shelton  McKenzie,  the  dramatic  and  literary 
editor  of  the  "  Press  "  and  a  gentleman  of  more  than  ordinary 
ability.  At  one  time  in  early  life  the  doctor  paid  his  addresses 
to  a  young  lady,  but  when  visiting  her  one  evening  he  was  such 
a  sticking  plaster  that  he  outraged  propriety  by  remaining  until 
very  unseasonable  hours.  One  night  in  particular  he  was  more 
than  usually  tedious,  and  the  lady  becoming  weary,  in  order  to 
give  him  a  hint,  arose  and  went  to  the  door.  He  followed  her., 
when  she  dropped  her  handkerchief  outside.  He  stooped  and 
picked  it  up,  upon  which  she  said  "  good  night "  and  shut  the 
door.  The  doctor,  who  didn't  see  the  point,  wrote  her  the  next 
day  an  apology  for  his  abrupt  departure.  The  anecdote  was  cur 
rent  and  Dan  Rice  got  off  the  following,  "  Why  is  Dr.  Shelton 
McKenzie  like  the  artesian  well  at  Columbus,  0.?  Because  both 
are  great  bores."  The  occasion  for  the  satirical  pun  was  in 
spired  by  a  somewhat  caustic  criticism  of  Colonel  Rice  in  the 
"  Press."  While  playing  at  Hudson,  K  Y.,  in  the  year  1844, 
during  the  anti-rent  war,  Mr.  Rice,  then  a  comparative  novice, 
perpetrated  his  first  conundrum.  The  leader  of  the  insurrection, 
Icnown  as  "  Big  Thunder,"  was  captured  by  Judge  Edmunds,  of 
Xew  York,  and  sentenced  to  be  confined  in  jail,  or,  in  Xew 
York  slang  of  the  day,  "  the  Jug."  "  Why,"  asked  Dan  of  the 


292  REMINISCENCES   OF  DAN   EICE 

King  Master,  "  is  Judge  Edmunds  a  greater  man  than  Dr.  Frank- 
lyn?"  and  the  answer  was  "Because  Franklyn  merely  bottled 
lightning,  but  Judge  Edmunds  jugged  Thunder." 

During  the  bloomer  dress  era  when  short  skirts  and  long  panta 
lets  were  the  prevailing  style  with  the  followers  of  the  aggressive, 
strong-minded  females,  Dan  Rice  got  off  the  following  while  ex 
hibiting  in  Rochester,  N.  Y.,  then  the  headquarters  of  the 
Bloomers. 

Hice — "  Master,  have  you  noticed  how  the  fashion  of  short 
skirts  and  long  pantalets  is  becoming  general  with  the  ladies?  " 

E.  M. — "  I  have,  sir.     Do  you  object  to  the  style?  " 

Rice — "  Oh,  no,  sir;  I  go  in  for  the  largest  kind  of  liberty  in 
dress  as  in  everything  else;  Fve  reduced  my  idea  into  rhyme." 

E.  M.—"  Well,  sir,  let  us  hear  it." 

Rice— 

"  Let  the  dames  of  America  do  as  they  please; 
Should  they  all  cut  their  petticoats  round  by  the  knees, 

'Tis  only  a  bold  protestation 
Against  a  bad  habit  called  sputans  in  Latin, 
That  spoils  every  place  where  their  husbands  have  sat  in, 
Defiles  all  their  carpets  and  dirties  their  matting! 

And  sticks  to  the  skirts  of  the  nation! 
Don't  fancy,  dear  sir,  that  ladies  are  flirts 
Because  they  have  cut  their  old  dangles  the  skirts, 
They  have  done  it  to  shame  you  they  readily  own, 
And  will  lengthen  their  habits  when  you  mend  your  own." 

Rice — "  Master,  did  you  ever  enjoy  a  full-breasted  kiss?  " 

Rm  M.—"  What  kind  of  a  kiss  is  that?  " 

Rice — "  I'll  give  you  an  illustration.  A  lady  friend  of  my 
wife  says  that  the  first  time  she  was  kissed  she  felt  like  a  big  tub 
of  roses  swimming  in  honey,  cologne,  nutmegs,  and  cranberries. 
She  also  felt  as  if  something  was  running  through  her  nerves  on 
the  foot  of  diamonds  escorted  by  angels,  shaded  by  honeysuckles, 
and  the  whole  spread  with  the  melted  rainbows.  Jerusalem! 
what  power  there  is  in  a  full -breasted  kiss." 

E.  M. — "  Well,  sir,  I  never  enjoyed  that  sort  of  a  kiss." 

Rice — "  I  thought  not;  now,  Master,  do  you  know  that  I  can 
prove  that  an  Irishman's  mud  cabin  is  better  than  heaven?  " 

E.  M. — "  No,  sir,  you  cannot  prove  it." 

Rice — «  Now  listen,  ain't  a  mud  cabin  better  than  nothing?  " 

E.  M. — "  Certainly  it  is  better  than  nothing." 

Rice — "And  nothing  is  better  than  heaven,  ergo,  the  Irish 
man's  mud  cabin  is  better  than  heaven.  Master,  I  can  prove  that 
a  cat  has  three  tails." 

E.  M .— "  Granted." 


BEMINISCEKCES   01*   ±>AX    lUCE"  293 

Pice — "  Then  a  cat  has  one  tail  more  than  no  cat.  Do  you 
see  the  point?  " 

R.  M.—"  Yes,  but  I  don't  see  the  three  tails." 

Rice — "  By  the  way,  Master,  I  saw  you  elbowing  your  way 
through  a  crowd  yesterday." 

It.  M. — "  Yes,  sir,  I  was  in  a  hurry.'7 

Rice — "  Did  you  poke  your  elbow  into  any  person's  stomach  ?  " 

R.  M. — "  No,  sir,  I  did  not  injure  any  person's  stomach." 

Rice — "  No,  the  only  stomach  likely  to  be  injured  by  the  crook 
of  your  elbow  is  your  own." 

R.  M. — "  Do  you  mean,  sir,  that  I  am  addicted  to  drinking?  " 

R  ice — "  Oh,  no,  but  I  have  heard  that  you  were  troubled  by 
snakes,  and  you  know  hard  drinking  cures  the  bite.  Say,  Master, 
have  you  made  your  will?" 

E.  j|/._«  Xo,  sir.     Have  you?  » 

Rice — "  Oh,  yes,  and  it  is  short  and  sweet.  It  reads  '  I  have 
nothing,  I  owe  nothing,  and  I  give  the  rest  to  the  poor.'  Now 
why  do  they  call  a  powerful  mind  a  high  wind?  " 

R.  M.—"  I  can't  say,  sir." 

Rice — "Well,  sir,  the  wind  is  the  merriest  and  maddest  and 
saddest  and  gladdest  of  pipers  in  the  world.  He  makes  all  things 
his  instrument.  He  whistles  on  the  reed  and  sighs  on  the  flag. 
Sometimes  he  makes  a  chimney  his  mouthpiece;  then  the  tunes 
he  plays  on  a  single  smoke-pipe  are  the  wildest  and  he  puffs  and 
blows  and  smokes  like  a  burgomaster.  And  speaking  of  the  wind, 
master,  do  you  know  that  it  has  been  all  day  blowing  a  terrible 
gale?" 

R.  N. — "  Yes,  I  found  it  very  disagreeable  walking  the 
streets." 

Rice — "  No  doubt.  I  noticed  an  impromptu  race  in  the  street." 

R.  M.—"  What  sort  of  a  race?  " 

Rice — "  A  race  for  a  hat.     May  I  ask  you  a  single  question  ?  " 

Rm  M.—"  Why,  yes  sir,  ask  it." 

Pice — "  Can  you  tell  me  what  a  mathematical  wind  is?  " 

R,  M.—"  I  give  it  up." 

Rice — "  A  wind  that  extracts  roots  from  the  earth." 

R.  M. — "  Why,  sir,  that  is  mere  nonsense."     . 

Rice — "  Well,  sir,  that  is  my  business  here  and  it  is  my  province 
to  indulge  in  every  species  of  nonsense,  so  that  laughter  may  hold 
his  sway,  and  for  which  I've  labored  night  and  day.  Hide,  blue 
devils,  fly  and  drive  dull  grief  from  even7"  face  and  eye.  By  the 
way,  Master,  I  hear  that  you  are  dabbling  in  coal  oil." 

R.  M. — "  I  think  of  embarking  in  that  trade.  What  is  your 
opinion  of  coal  oil  ?  " 

Pice — "  Coal  oil,  sir,  is  the  perspiration  of  bit-u-min-ous  coal, 
and  being  an  offspring  of  bit-u-men  it  signifies  or  implies  that 


294  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAX    RICE 

you  men  will  get  bit.  Master,  we  were  speaking  of  nonsense  just 
now,  would  you  like  to  know  the  most  nonsensical  thing  I  ever 
came  in  contact  with?  " 

R.  M.—"  Well,  sir,  what  was  it?  " 

Rice — "  It  was  at  Saratoga  Springs  in  the  State  of  New  York. 
A  young  man  got  married  in  the  early  part  of  the  evening  and 
then  sat  up  the  balance  of  the  night  courting  his  wife." 

R.  M. — "  He  must  have  been  a  verdant  young  gentleman." 

Rice — «  Yes,  a  bigger  fool  than  Thompson's  colt.  I  say.  Mas 
ter,  do  you  know  the  greatest  case  on  record  of  absence  of  mind?  " 

R.  M .— "No,  sir." 

Rice — "  A  married  lady  put  a  house  cloth  in  the  cradle  and 
wiped  up  the  floor  with  her  baby." 

R.  M. — "  Now,  sir,  how  do  you  know  so  much  about  it?  " 

Rice — "  I  was  there." 

R.  M. — "  Then  tell  me  how  did  she  discover  her  mistake?  " 

Rice — "  Why,  Master,  she  discovered  her  mistake  when  she 
wrung  out  the  baby." 

R.  M.  (cracking  his  whip) — "  Such  nonsense  is  ridiculous." 

Rice — "  Then  you  don't  appreciate  it.     Don't  you  know  that 
"  A  little  nonsense  now  and  then 
Is  relished  by  the  wisest  men — 
(aside)  but  he  don't  see  it,  he's  a  fool." 

R.  M. — "What  was  that  you  said,  sir?  Did  you  call  me  a 
fool?" 

Rice — "  No,  sir,  I  said  keep  cool." 

AT  THE  NATIONAL  THEATRE,  PHILADELPHIA. 

Rice — "  Master,  you  read  and  studied  a  deal  in  your  time." 

R.  M.—"  Yes,  sir,  I  have." 

Rice — "  You  have  read  ancient  and  modern  history,  I  pre 
sume  ?  " 

E.  M.—"  I  have,  sir." 

Rice — "  You  have  read  the  twelve  Apostles?  " 

12.  M.—"  Yes,  sir." 

Rice—"  The  -twelve  Caesars?  " 

Rt  M.—"  Yes,  sir." 

Rice—"  The  nine  muses?  " 

R.  M.—"  Yes,  sir." 

Rice — "The  seven  champions  of  Christendom?" 

R,  M.—"  Yes,  sir." 

Rice — "  And  the  fifty-six  signers  of  the  Declaration  of  Inde 
pendence  who  penned  the  death  warrant  of  tyranny?" 

Rm  If.— "Yes,  sir." 

Rice — "  You  have  read  'em  all,  have  you?  " 


REMINISCENCES    OF   DAN    RICE  295 

R.  M.—"  I  have,  sir." 

Rice — "  Did  you  ever  read  of  the  six  great  Daniels  or  Dans?  " 

R.  M. — "  No,  sir,  I  have  not;  have  you?  " 

Rice — "  Yes  sir,  I  have." 

R,  M.—"  Well,  who  are  they?  " 

Rice — "  There  was  Dan  the  prophet,  whose  fame  no  one  dared 
scoff  at;  there  was  Dan  Lambert  the  stout,  history  says  died  with 
the  gout;  there  was  old  Dan  Tucker,  who  was  too  late  for  his 
supper;  there  was  Daniel  O'Connell  the  agitator,  who,  by  the  by, 
was  no  small  potato;  there  was  Dan  Webster,  the  expounder, 
whose  word  weighed  a  pound,  sir;  and  here's  Dan  Rice,  the  fool, 
who  sends  jackasses  to  school." 

This  last  was  in  allusion  to  his  having  accomplished  a  hitherto 
deemed  impossible  task  in  the  education  of  a  stubborn  mule;  he 
being  the  first  and  only  man  that  had  ever  succeeded  in  develop 
ing  the  intellect  of  such  an  animal,  whose  performance  invariably 
provoked  more  laughter  than  any  other  comic  scene  in  the  circle, 
at  the  same  time  was  demonstrated  the  wonderful  capacity  of 
Mr.  Rice  in  stimulating  the  intellect  of  so  dull,  obstinate,  and 
unmanageable  a  brute.  It  is  a  fact  that  during  his  professional 
career  he  trained  four  pairs  of  those  animals  which  he  disposed 
of  to  other  shows  for  $5,000  a  pair. 

Ring  Master  is  about  walking  off. 

Rice — "Where  are  you  going,  Master?" 

R.  M. — "  I  am  warm,  and  I'm  going  to  get  a  little  air." 

Rice — "Going  to  get  a  little  heir,  eh?  Well,  sir,  name  him 
after  me." 

R.  M. — "  You  seem  to  be  very  happy  this  evening." 

Rice — "  Yes,  sir,  as  the  Irishman  says,  ' I'm  as  happy  as  a  flea 
in  a  blanket.'  '• 

R.  M. — "  Well,  I  can  readily  account  for  your  happiness." 

Rice— "  Row  so?  " 

R.  M. — "  You've  got  a  charming,  beautiful  wife." 

Rice — "Look  here,  we've  always  been  friendly,  haven't  we?" 

R.  M.—"  Of  course  we  have,  Mr.  Rice." 

Rice — "  And  you  wish  to  continue  so  ?  " 

R.  M.—"  Most  assuredly  I  do." 

Rice — "  Then  avoid  such  compliments  in  the  future." 

R.  M.—"  Why  what  remark  did  I  make  to  offend?  " 

R  ice — "  You  are  a  frequent  visitor  to  my  house,  ain't  you?  " 

E.  M.—"  Why,  yes." 

Rice — "  And  I  have  always  treated  you  in  a  hospitable  man 
ner?  " 

R.  M. — "  You  certainly  have." 

Rice — "  Then  don't  you  ever  again  remark  that  I've  got  a 
charming  young  wife."  " 


296  KEMIHISCENCES   OF   DAN 

E.  Jf.—  "Why,  Rice?     There's  nothing  in  it." 
Eice  —  "  No,  but  there  migh  t  be." 

In  her  principal  act  the  equestrienne  fell  from  her  horse.  Mr. 
Eice  asked  the  Ring  Master  what  made  the  lady  fall.  The  Ring 
Master  replied  that  she  lost  her  equilibrium,  whereupon  Mr.  Rice 
goes  peering  around  the  ring. 

E.  M.  —  u  What  are  you  looking  for,  sir?  " 

Eice  (innocently)  —  "  I'm  looking  for  the  lady's  equilibrium." 

E.  M.  —  "  Oh,  you  stupid  fellow;  I  meant  that  she  had  lost  her 
balance." 

Eice  —  "  Don't  you  know,  Master,  that  woman  is  less  pliable 
than  man?  " 

E.  M.—"  Prove  it,  sir." 

Rice  —  "  I  will,  in  rhyme." 

"  Said  a  gent  once  contending  how  high  in  the  scale 
Stood  man  above  woman  so  feeble  and  frail, 
When  the  trial  of  virtue  and  vice  first  began, 
Satan  durst  not  present  his  temptation  to  man. 
'  Nay/  answered  the  fair  one,  '  say  not  that  he  "  dared," 
The  old  serpent  knew  well  that  some  pains  might  be  spared. 
"  For,"  thought  he,  "  if  I  first  get  the  man  in  my  chain, 
The  most  difficult  part  of  my  task  will  remain, 
But  could  I  succeed  the  fair  Eve  to  allure, 
Adam  follows  of  course,  and  then  both  are  secure."  ; 
So  cease  your  proud  boast  of  man's  firmness  and  own 
If  superior  either,  the  woman's  the  one, 
Since  a  woman  could  overcome  Adam,  poor  elf, 
But  to  overcome  woman,  took  Satan  himself." 

The  following  colloquy  took  place  in  Brooklyn,  N.  Y.,  during 
the  celebrated  trial  of  Henry  Ward  Beecher. 

E.  M.  —  "  Why,  Mr.  Rice,  you  look  sad  this  evening;  I  mean 
that  you  appear  in  a  reflective  mood." 

Rice  —  "  Well,  sir,  can't  a  fool  have  his  moments  of  reflection? 
Why,  Master,  there  are  times  when  I  am  a  melancholy  fool." 

E.  M.  —  "  Well,  cheer  up,  cheer  up,  and  tell  me  what  you  are 
thinking  about." 

Eice  —  "  I  was  thinking  of  what  Shakespeare  says  in  one  of  his 
plays, 


"  ( 


Man  is  but  a  walking  shadow, 

A  poor  player,  that  struts  and  frets  his  hour  upon  the  stage, 

And  is  heard  no  more, 

A  tale  told  by  an  idiot 

Full  of  sound  and  fury  signifying  nothing.'  '; 


EEMINISCENCES   OF   DAX   EICE  297 

7?.  M.— "  True,  most  true." 

Rice — "  However,  Master,  it  is  but  nature;  sooner  or  later  we 
have  all  got  to  return  to  mother  earth.  Did  you  ever  reflect, 
Master,  that  we  came  from  the  dust,  and  all  through  life  we  kick 
up  a  dust  trying  to  throw  dust  into  each  other's  eyes,  until  old 
Father  Time,  the  Universal  Duster,  calls  all,  both  great  and 
small,  to  his  universal  dust-hole  the  earth.  What  a  sweeping 
time  there  will  be  when  that  takes  place;  when  all  mankind  and 
all  womenkind  are  trans-magnified  and  metamorphosed  back  to 
their  original  powder,  the  dust.  And  it  will  take  a  very  large 
broom,  too,  I  am  thinking,  as  large  as  eighty  acres  of  forest  trees 
tied  all  together.  Then  dukes,  dandies,  potentates,  politicians, 
in  fact,  old,  young,  good,  bad,  indifferent,  regardless  of  color  or 
previous  condition  will  be  swept  off  like  flies  off  the  bung-hole 
of  a  molasses  cask.  Oh,  let  us  hope  while  going  back  to  our 
original  element  that  the  grains  of  human  virtue  may  be  sepa 
rated  and  rise  up  as  clouds  of  grateful  incense  to  its  Creator. 
(The  Ring  Master  smiled.)  I  see  that  you  smile,  Master.  You 
have  cause  to  smile,  for  I  rarely  imitate  men  at  all,  and  when  I 
do  strive  to  imitate  his  virtues  and  not  his  follies,  and  a  man 
might  possibly  be  worse  employed  than  in  imitating  so  distin 
guished  a  divine  as  Henry  Ward  Beecher  (puts  his  finger  to  his 
nose  and  winks).  And,  Master,  there  was  a  certain  occasion 
when  I  would  very  much  have  liked  to  imitate  him."  There 
was  silence  for  a  minute  until  the  audience  saw  the  point,  and 
then  a  universal  roar. 

Eice  shied  his  hat  at  the  Eing  Master,  who  kicked  it. 

Rice — "  I  dare  you  to  do  that  again."  (Eing  Master  kicks 
it.) 

Rice — "'  You  dare  not  kick  it  again."     (Again  he  kicks  it.) 

Rice — "  Xow,  I'm  getting  mad;  let  us  see  you  do  it  again." 
(Eing  Master  kicks  it  around  the  ring.) 

Rice — "  Well,  keep  at  it;  I  dare  you  to  kick  it  all  night." 
(Eing  Master  turns  away.)  Mr.  Eice  thus  apostrophises  the  hat: 
"  Ill-used  castor,  the  hour  of  retribution  is  at  hand  and  you  shall 
be  avenged.  No  longer  shall  your  venerable  years  be  insulted. 
I  wrill  avenge  your  wrongs." 

(Sings)  "  We  have  lived  and  loved  together 

In  sunshine  and  in  shade, 
You've  shielded  me  in  wet  weather, 
And  warmed  my  aching  head, 
But  though  you're  old  and  napless, 
And  spurned  by  fashion's  crew, 
Old  friend,  however  hapless, 
I'll  still  to  you  prove  true." 


298  REMINISCENCES    OF   DAN   EICE 

Dan  Rice  to  his  Ring  Master  on  Louis  Philippe  abdicating  the 
throne  of  France: 

Louis  Philippe,  King  of  France,  was  xtravagantly  xtolled, 
xceedingly  xecrated.  He  xhibited  xtraordinary  xcellence  in 
xigency;  he  was  xemplary  in  xternals,  xtrinsic  on  xamination. 
He  was  xtatic  under  xhortation,  xtreme  in  xcitement  and  xtraor 
dinary  in  xtempore  xpressions.  He  was  xpatriated  for  xcesses, 
and  to  xpiate  his  xtravagance,  xists  in  xile. 

Dead?  No,  still  lives!  For  what  sunshine  and  shade  are  to 
the  grateful  earth  the  strains  of  Shakespeare  are  to  the  human 
heart. 

Clown  (to  his  master) — "  I  went  shopping  to-day,  for  my  wife." 

Master—"  What  did  you  get?  " 

Clown — "  I  bought  a  new  hat.     Oh,  it  was  a  tiresome  job." 

Master— "Why  so?" 

Clown — "  After  I  bought  it  I  ran  all  the  way  back  to  the  hotel 
with  it." 

Master— "Why  BO?" 

Clown — "  For  fear  the  fashion  would  change  before  I  reached 
there." 

"  You  are  rude,"  said  the  Ring  Master,  "  and  I  feel  that  all  my 
instruction  is  lost  upon  you." 
Clown — "  What  have  I  done  ?  " 
Master — "  You  appear  better  fed  than  taught." 
Clown — "  Yes,  I  feed  myself,  and  you  teach  me!  " 

RICE  THE  RATIONALIST,  PHILOSOPHER  AND  MORALIST. 

A  more  interesting  and  instructive  insight  to  the  philosophic 
side  of  Rice  as  a  student  of  human  nature,  a  dissector  of  the  mo 
tives  of  his  fellow-men,  the  causes  and  effects  of  human  conduct, 
the  pleasures,  pains,  and  penalties  born  of  the  hopes,  ambitions, 
follies  and  frailties,  vices  and  virtues,  loves  and  friendships  of 
his  kind,  could  scarcely  be  furnished  with  more  strange  and 
startling  force  than  may  be  found  in  the  following  fragmentary 
excerpts,  pregnant  as  they  are  with  thoughts  that  touch  the  deep 
est  depths  of  worldly  wit,  wisdom,  and  scathing  satire,  softened 
by  a  veil  of  sincerest  sympathy,  and  enveloped  throughout  by  a 
cloak  of  ennobling  and  inspiring  forbearance,  pity,  and  Christian 
charity.  His  love  of  mother  nature,  mortal  life,  of  human  lib 
erty,  are  illustrated  with  an  eloquent  economy  and  forceful  pithi 
ness  of  expression  that  cannot  but  impress  the  reader  with  an 
added  sense  of  his  greatness  of  heart  and  nobility  of  nature. 


REMINISCENCES    OF   DAN   1UCE  290 


THE  CLOWN'S  WISDOM. 

He  ever  is  assured  whose  heart  is  open  to  the  eye  of  day,  who 
wears  no  lurking  danger  in  his  smiles,  nor  dreams  of  tigers' 
hearts  beneath  the  fleece  of  inoffensive  flocks;  what  should  I  fear? 
Shall  I  embitter  all  the  joys  of  life  to  shrink  from  death  and  die 
in  my  own  fears?  While  naught  but  poisoned  bowls  and  air- 
drawn  daggers  and  treacherous  friends  or  enemies  disguised,  and 
snares  and  lures  and  dark  conspiracies  flit  through  the  fevered 
brain  in  endless  terror,  beset  the  affrighted  soul  and  prey  upon 
it,  till  naught  remains  of  life,  but  dread  of  death,  and  all  of  death 
is  suffered  but  the  name.  I  pause  no  longer;  flood  or  ebb  in  for 
tune,  he  rides  the  waves  triumphant;  the  ills  of  life,  the  tests  and 
touch  stones  of  external  glory,  by  which  alone  its  currency  is 
tried,  and  sterling  coin  distinguished  from  the  false,  increase  his 
weight  and  stamp  new  value  on  him. 

CONTENTMENT. 

I  have  seen  men  in  tempests  of  passion,  in  the  greatest  depths 
of  grief;  the  former  I  have  always  found  easily  subdued,  the  latter 
readily  consoled.  All  that  is  required  is  to  know  the  spring  of 
the  heart.  The  grave  is  the  only  grief  that  has  temporal  hope 
there,  the  only  cure  is  to  look  beyond  it. 

SILENCE. 

Silence,  the  watchful  sentinel  of  night,  with  noiseless  step  and 
undiverted  ear  challenged  each  sound. 

Romantic  love  is  like  the  cataract  which  foams  and  rages  while 
impediments  obstruct  its  swelling  serge.  Give  it  full  sway,  and 
lo,  its  silvery  sheen  glides  gently  on  and  lulls  itself  to  sleep  with 
its  own  music. 

Like  a  man  who  walks  backward  to  destruction  and  looks  at  the 
stars  or  sun  to  the  last. 

How  times  are  changed.  Now  Prim  plays  the  lover,  and  Eng 
land's  Helen  rushes  to  his  arms;  while  all  the  pride  and  pomp 
of  chivalry  smile  on  the  triumph  of  three-score  and  ten.  The 
rose  of  spring  clasped  in  the  arms  of  winter,  the  aloe  would  befit 
his  highness  better;  it  blooms  but  once  in  sixty  years. 

I've  borne  these  ribald  jests  beyond  that  point  where  patience 
is  a  virtue.  Provoke  my  rage  no  longer,  'tis  not  mete  that  we 


300  REMINISCENCES    OF   DAN   RICE 

should  prattle  of  our  inmost  griefs;  but  there  are  depths  within 
this  wounded  heart,  which,  probed  unskilfully,  result  in  death 
to  patient  or  physician. 

We'll  talk  no  more  of  women;  the  winds  and  waves  shall  now 
our  topics  be,  they  are  not  more  changeful  and  less  perilous. 

Oh,  Alexander;  what  a  soul  was  thine,  that  in  the  prime  of 
manhood  and  of  love — decked  with  a  thousand  triumphs — could 
resist  the  matchless  Persian  beauty,  Bright  Satira. 

The  ruling  passion  is  a  substitute  for  courage.  If  a  man  be  a 
coward,  only  offend  his  ruling  passion  and  he  becomes  brave  in 
its  defence.  Look  at  the  miser  defending  his  gold. 

EPITAPHS. 

Torn  from  us  in  the  springtime  of  his  heart;  sundered  from 
those  dear  arms  that  clung  around  thee  in  all  thy  loveliness,  what 
now  remains  with  the  survivors  to  allay  their  griefs  but  the  rich 
memory  of  thy  spotless  life,  radiant  with  hope  and  redolent  with 
virtue,  and  pointing  to  those  bright  realms  of  endless  joy  whose 
earthly  portal  is  the  peaceful  grave. 

Exalted  virtue  and  undying  faith  in  the  atoning  blood  of 
Calvary,  an  earnest  of  beatitude  to  come.  Why  should  survivors 
mourn  the  pious  dead,  who,  having  shaken  off  life's  weary  load, 
mount  at  the  regions  of  eternal  bliss,  and  rest  upon  the  bosom  of 
their  God. 

"  Music  hath  charms  to  sooth  the  savage  beast,  to  soften  rocks, 
or  bend  the  knotted  oak.  I've  read  that  things  inanimate  have 
moved,  and  have  numbers  and  persuasive  sounds." 

TIME. 

The  man  that  takes  twice  as  much  time  to  accomplish  an 
object  as  is  necessary,  abridges  his  life  one-half,  and  nearly  de 
stroys  the  other  half  by  an  acquired  sluggishness  and  supineness. 

Why  is  it  that  you  trim  your  plants  and  your  trees  to  remove 
what  is  decayed  and  offensive  to  the  sight,  and  to  promote  the 
growth  of  that  which  remains?  The  very  storms  that  visit  the 
forest  remove  the  rotten  or  useless  portions  of  the  limbs  and 
branches,  and  thereby  increase  their  general  growth  and  beauty 
— such  are  the  benefits  of  adversity. 


REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE  301 

A  well-provided  breast  hopes  in  adversity  and  fears  in  pros 
perity. 

Xo  vice  so  bad  as  virtue  run  mad. 


KOGUES  IN  EELIGIOUS  ROBES. 
Men  who  sometimes  watch  and  pray,  ofttimes  watch  to  prey. 

The  argument  resembles  a  peacock's  tail,  filled  with  beautiful 
plumage,  but  supported  by  deformed  and  hideous  legs. 

There  is  holy  love  and  a  holy  rage,  and  our  best  virtues  never 
glow  so  brightly  as  when  our  passions  are  excited  in  the  cause. 
Sloth,  if  it  has  prevented  many  crimes,  has  also  smothered  many 
virtues,  and  the  best  of  us  are  better  when  roused.  Passions 
are  to  virtue  what  wine  was  to  Eschylus  and  Annius — under  its 
inspiration  their  powers  were  at  their  height. 

To  MAKE  LOVE. 

If  you  cannot  inspire  a  woman  with  love  for  you,  fill  her  above 
the  brim  with  love  for  herself;  all  that  runs  over  will  be  yours. 

A  false  friend  is  like  a  shadow  on  a  dial,  it  appears  in  clear 
weather  but  vanishes  as  soon  as  a  cloud  appears. 

To  BE  HAPPY. 

Be  honest  not  only  in  your  dealings  through  life  with  your 
fellow-man,  but  be  honest  in  thought  and  never  allow  your  neces 
sities,  be  they  ever  so  great  and  pressing,  to  force  you  into  the 
doing  of  an  act  that  will  either  compromise  your  self-respect  or 
forfeit  your  integrity. 

LAWS  OF  NATURE. 

They  are  just  but  terrible,  there  is  no  weak  mercy  in  them. 
Cause  and  consequence  are  inseparable  and  inevitable;  the  ele 
ments  have  no  forbearance.  The  fire  burns,  the  water  drowns, 
the  air  consumes,  the  earth  buries,  and  perhaps  it  would  be  well 
for  our  race  if  the  punishment  for  crimes  against  the  laws  of  man 
were  as  inevitable  as  the  punishment  of  crimes  against  the  laws 
of  nature — were  man  as  unerring  in  his  judgment  as  nature. 


302  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAN    RICE 

Two  LIVES. 

There  are  two  lives  to  each  of  us,  gliding  on  at  the  same  time, 
scarcely  connected  with  each  other — the  life  of  our  existence  and 
the  life  of  our  minds;  the  external  and  the  inward  history,  the 
movements  of  the  frame,  the  deep  and  ever  restless  workings  of 
the  heart.  They  who  have  loved  know  that  there  is  a  diary  of 
the  affections  which  we  might  keep  for  years  without  having 
occasion  even  to  touch  upon  the  exterior  surface  of  life,  our  busy 
occupations,  the  mechanical  progress  of  our  existence,  yet  by 
the  last  we  are  judged,  the  first  is  never  known. 

Preserve  integrity.  The  consciousness  of  thine  own  Tightness 
will  alleviate  the  toil  of  business,  and  soften  the  harshness  of 
disappointment  and  give  thee  a  humble  confidence  before  God 
when  the  ingratitude  of  man  or  the  iniquity  of  the  times  may  rob 
you  of  all  other  due  reward. 

If  crazy  knave  built  on  this  construction,  deaths'  decrees  shall 
lose  their  bloody  impress,  and  become  a  passport  to  regal  enter 
tainment. 

ADVICE. 

What's  in  your  breast  let  no  one  know, 
Nor  to  your  friend  your  secret  show. 
For  when  your  friend  becomes  your  foe, 
Then  will  the  world  your  secret  know. 

Punctuality  begets  confidence,  temperance  the  best  physic, 
honesty  the  best  policy,  which  is  the  sure  road  to  honor  and 
respect. 

Good  actions  know  themselves  with  lasting  bays, 
Who  well  deserves,  needs  not  another's  praise. 


CAPITAL  VERSUS  LABOR. 

The  attitude  of  capital  toward  labor  is  a  gigantic  blunder,  be 
cause  it  is  in  direct  conflict  with  the  requirements  of  the  golden 
rule,  which  most  capitalists  profess  and  which  few  of  them  or 
any  other  class  practice.  They  forget  that  labor  is  no  longer 
abject;  labor  may  be  unreasonable,  brutal,  even  mad  at  times, 
but  it  has  ceased  to  be  afraid;  it  has  attained  dignity  of  self- 


KEMINISCENCES   OF   DAX   EICE 


303 


respect.  Why  does  not  capital  see  the  "  handwriting  on  the 
wall,"  and  meet  labor  in  a  Christian  spirit.  Why  this  church- 
going  if  ye  lived  not  up  to  the  teachings  of  the  Golden  Rule. 
Labor  asks  for  arbitration,  why  not;  it  is  a  fact  that  labor  has 
ceased  asking  permission  to  live  in  the  world;  it  has  ceased  to 
kneel;  it  no  longer  takes  off  its  hat;  labor  is  erect,  it  has  intelli 
gence;  is  ever  worthy  of  its  hire,  and  it  knows  what  it  has  done, 
and  is  still  doing  for  the  world;  it  knows  that  it  has  been  robbed 
and  it  proposes  a  new  regime,  as  Bobby  Burns  says, 

"  What  tho'  on  hamely  fare  we  dine, 
Wear  hoddin  gray  and  a'  that; 
Gie  fools  their  silks  and  knaves  their  wine, 
A  man's  a  man  for  a'  that." 

Where  is  that  palace  where  into  foul  things  sometimes  intrude 
not;  who  has  a  breast  so  pure,  but  some  uncouth  apprehension 
keeps  leet  and  law  days,  and  in  sessions  sits  with  meditations 
lawful. 

ADVICE. 

If  we  cannot  derive  support  from  religion,  it  is  not  that  reli 
gion  cannot  furnish  it,  but  because  we  want  faith  in  its  efficiency. 
God  elects  all  who  elect  him. 

A  man  who  spends  his  life  getting  even,  for  real  or  supposed 
injuries,  is  an  enemy  to  himself  and  a  traitor  to  his  friends. 

For  heaven's  sake  a  quiet  life,  a  constant  friend,  a  loving  wife, 
a  good  repute,  a  fund  in  store,  oh!  what  can  man  desire  more. 

For  every  evil  under  the  sun,  there's  a  remedy  or  there's  none; 
if  there  be  one,  go  find  it;  if  there  be  none,  never  mind  it. 

In  faith  and  hope,  the  world  will  disagree,  but  all  mankind  con 
tinue  in  charity. 

Mine  is  the  hand  should  strike  the  deadly  blow,  and  mine  the 
eye  should  look  unwavering  on. 

We  think  more  of  ourselves  than  of  others,  and  more  for  others 
than  ourselves. 

A  wise  man  always  hesitates  to  judge  another's  sin, 

It's  good  old  common  sense  to  wait  till  all  the  facts  are  in. 


304  REMINISCENCES    OF    DAX    RICE 

Ye  would  be  leaders,  shame  upon  ye;  leaders  who  never  yet 
have  learned  to  follow  where  glory  marked  the  way,  hence  to 
your  homes,  is  this  a  fit  occasion  when  Spain's  fortunes  stand 
likely  equipois'd  in  fate's  dread  balance,  and  heaven  and  earth 
pause  on  her  destiny,  thus  by  inglorious  faction  to  provoke  the 
special  vengeance  of  superior  powers;  but  what  care  you  for  life's 
vicissitudes;  the  night  storm  drives  harmless  over  your  heads, 
none  but  the  great,  the  good,  the  God-like,  feel  it.  You  are 
below  its  fury. 

SILENT  PIETY. 

I  bend  me  towards  the  tiny  flower,  that  underneath  this  tree, 
Opens  its  little  breast  of  sweets,  in  meekest  modesty; 

And  breathes  the  eloquence  of  love, 

A  cypress,  not  a  bosom,  hides  my  poor  heart. 

INNOCENCE. 
The  harvest  of  a  quiet  eye  that  broods  and  sleeps  on  its  heart. 

MARCH. 

Beautiful,  uncertain  weather, 

When  stor